J&K parties barred from paying tributes on Martyrs’ Day

July 13 is observed as Martyrs’ Day.

Updated - July 13, 2021 10:47 pm IST

Published - July 13, 2021 02:28 pm IST - Srinagar:

J&K National Conference President Farooq Abdullah.

J&K National Conference President Farooq Abdullah.

Jammu and Kashmir political parties, including the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Tuesday alleged they were denied permission to pay tributes at the graveyard in Srinagar’s Naqsband Sahib of 22 Kashmiris, who died during an anti-monarchy rebellion on July 13, 1931. Meanwhile, a shutdown affected life in the Valley.

“In view of the government imposed restrictions, party functionaries, led by its president Dr. Farooq Abdullah, paid glowing tributes and offered ‘fateh’ [prayers] to the July 13 martyrs at the party office, Nawa-e-Subah, this morning,” NC spokesman Imran Nabi Dar said.

In a joint statement, Dr. Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah described the 1931 episode, which took place during the Dogra regime, as “a landmark in the history of J&K”.

“Their sacrifices resulted in the transformation of the State from a feudalistic to a democratic one. The brave men belonged to a generation of wisdom and vision. They saw in darkness and despair, a vision for the forthcoming generations; they envisioned a society free from bondage, discrimination and oppression,” they said.

Rise of Sheikh Abdullah

The 1931 episode had seen the rise of the NC and its patron Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah on the political horizon of Jammu and Kashmir.

Sheikh Abdullah’s granddaughter Nyla Ali Khan, who teaches in Oklahoma, U.S., said, “Sheikh sahib once said he felt as if the bullets were penetrating his heart. His political life in the real sense starts with this firing on the people. He said he was greatly influenced by this incident”.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said, “Today on the occasion of ‘Martyrs Day’, the gates leading to their graveyards have been locked up. Attempts to distort and rewrite Kashmir’s history is being done only to create a sense of defeat and helplessness amongst Kashmiris. Nevertheless, as we pay homage to the heroes of 13th July, 1931, our resolve to strive for restoration of J&K’s dignity remains firm.”

Sajad Lone’s Peoples Conference and J&K Apni Party also paid tributes to the anti-Dogra protesters. “They were the first torch-bearers of establishing democracy in this region,” Apni Party president Altaf Bukhari said.

Restrictions, shutdown in Valley

Meanwhile, parts of the old city, especially the roads leading to the graveyard, were blocked with concertina wires and barricades by security forces. Most shops and business establishments remained closed and there was skeletal traffic on the roads.

A shutdown call was given by separatists, including the Hurriyat headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, on the occasion.

Till 2019, July 13 was being observed as ‘Martyrs Day’ and senior officials, including the Governor, police officers, and political parties, would offer their tributes at the graveyard. However, after the abrogation of J&K’s special constitutional position in August 2019, the Lieutenant Governor’s administration dropped July 13 from J&K’s official holiday calendar. Since then, no official visits the graveyard or issues any statement on the occasion.

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