Heritage

With no official function in Kashmir, Kashmiris across the globe observe Martyrs’ Day

This is for the first time since 1948 that there is no official function on Martyrs’ Day

Martyrs’ day was removed as a gazetted holiday in December, instead October 26, when Maharaja signed the Accession to India, was added 

Srinagar: For the first time since 1948, there is no public holiday or official function on July 13 in Kashmir on the Martyr’s Day. But Kashmiris in the United States of America, Canada, and many other parts of the world, took to the streets to register their protests at the removal of the gazetted holiday, and ‘commemorate the sacrifices of the martyrs’.

Soon after the revocation of Article 370 in August last year, the government of India issued a list of gazette holidays for the erstwhile state and passed a decision to not commemorate the day, thereby omitting July 13 and December 5 from the list – inviting an outcry by the Kashmir centric political outfits.

However, Kashmiris and Kashmiri outfits based across the world held demonstrations to ‘commemorate the sacrifices’.

A New-York based Kashmiri group, Kashmir Global Council (KGC) observed the day and condemned the government’s move to oust the public holiday from the list.

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Elaborating the significance of this day, Dr. Humaira Gowher, the Chief Spokesperson of KGC said, “on this day began an era of mass execution of Kashmiri civilians and systematic expropriation of Kashmiri land. The day honors the courage and valiance of the revolutionaries who resisted despotic rule and laid down their lives to safeguard our political and civil rights.”

In Washington D.C. too, World Kashmir Awareness Forum (WKAF) commemorated the day whilst also demanding the release of Kashmiri politicians who’d been booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA).

“All Kashmiri political leaders and activists are languishing in various jails where they are being subjected to torture, isolation and healthcare deprivation and unhygienic crowded conditions. They are facing added fear of Covid-19 pandemic which is raging among jail staff,” said their communiqué.

The communiqué also pleaded to the US government, congressional leaders as well as the UN Secretary General & UN High Commissioner on Human Rights for the release of all political prisoners.

Demonstrations were held in Canada by Kashmiri ivil society and groups.

The Day was declared as a public holiday by the Ex Prime Minister of J&K, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah to ‘commemorate the sacrifices’ of those who revolted against the Dogra rule on July 13, 1931.

Twenty-two people were shot dead on this day in 1931 by the forces of the then Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh, when people rose against Dogra rule and protested against the prosecution of Kashmiri Muslims.

For removing the holiday from the list, a Delhi based newspaper Hindustan Times quoted a senior official as saying: “In December last year, the list of gazetted holidays had no mention of martyrs’ day on July 13 and December 5, the birth anniversary of former J&K Prime Minister Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. Therefore, the question doesn’t arise of holding any official function or declaring a holiday on Monday,”

In the new list of gazette holidays, the government, however, declared October 26 as a gazetted holiday. On this day in 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh had signed the “Instrument of Accession” with the dominion of India. October 26 is observed as a Black Day by many in Kashmir.

 

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