By Sajjad Shaukat
Youme Shuhada-e-Kashmir (Martyrs’ Day) is observed on July 13 every year on both sides of the Line of Control and all over the world by the Kashmiris to pay homage to 22 Kashmiris who were martyred in 1931 to free Kashmir from the brutalities of despotic Dogra rulers. The day is reminder of Indian state terrorism which still continues in order to crush the Kashmiri struggle against its illegal occupation.
However, the history of Dogra rule (1846-1947) in Kashmir is replete with tyrannous treatment, meted out to the Kashmiri Muslims by Dogra forces. Under the Dogra rule, they were leading so miserable life that it was difficult to differentiate them from beasts. Slave labour, heavy taxes, capital punishment for cow slaughter, and living under constant terror was order of the day.
In this regard, Yousaf Saraf in his book, ‘Kashmiris Fight for Freedom’ calls it “free forced labour” and “instead of donkeys and horses, Kashmiri Muslims were used for transportation of goods across the far-flung areas.”
Atrocities of the Dogra regime could also be judged from the book of Sir Walter Lawrence, ‘The India We Served’. While describing the pathetic picture of the Kashmiris, he writes, “army was employed in forcing the villagers to plough and sow, and worse still, the soldiers came at harvest time and when the share of the state had been seized” and “there was very little grain to tide the unfortunate peasants over the cruel winter.”
On April 19, 1931, the ban of Eid Khutba ignited widespread demonstrations in the Jummu city for a number of days. It was followed by desecration of the Holy Quran at the hands of Dogra forces, which resulted into outrage among the Muslims throughout the state. In Srinagar, people gathered in Jamia Masjid to denounce this blasphemy. One such get-together was held in Khankah-e-Muella Srinagar, which was addressed by prominent Kashmiris. When the meeting was concluded, a youth, Abdul Qadeer, pointing his finger to the Maharaja’s palace, raised slogans “destroy its every brick.” With the accusation of sedition, he was arrested forthwith. Abdul Qadir was to be tried in the court but due to large public resentment, the court was shifted to Central Jail Srinagar.
On July 12, 1931, in response to the shifting of court, intense public protests were held throughout the city. The next day, on July 13, 1931, thousands of people thronged the Central Jail Srinagar to witness the in-camera trial of Abdul Qadeer. As the time for obligatory prayer approached, a young Kashmiri stood for Azan. The Dogra Governor, Ray Zada Tartilok Chand ordered soldiers to open fire at him. When he got martyred, another young man took his place and started Azan. He was also shot dead. In this way, 22 Kashmiris embraced martyrdom in their efforts to complete the Azan.
The people carried the dead and paraded through the streets of Srinagar, chanting slogans against Dogra brutalities. Complete strike was observed in the city, which was followed by weeklong mourning. This incident shook the whole state and the traffic from Srinagar to Rawalpindi and Srinagar to Jammu came to halt from July 13 to 26, 1931. The 22 martyrs are buried in Martyrs’ Graveyard at Khawaja Bazar, Srinagar.
However, instead of granting the people, their genuine right of sefl-determination and holding plebiscite in the controlled territories of Kashmir in accordance with the UN resolutions, various forms of state terrorism have become part of a deliberate campaign by the Indian army and paramilitary forces against the innocent Muslim Kashmiris, especially since 1989. It has been manifested in brutal tactics such as crackdowns, curfews, illegal detentions, massacre, targeted killings, sieges, burning the houses, torture, disappearances, rape, breaking the legs, molestation of Muslim women and killing of persons through fake encounter.
According to a report on human rights violations in the Indian Occupied Kashmir, from January 1989 to December 2012, there have been deaths of 93,274 innocent Kashmiris, 6,969 custodial killings, 117,345 arrests and 105,861 destructions of houses. Indian brutal security forces have orphaned over 107, 351 children, widowed 22,728 women and gang raped 9,920 women. From January 1, 2013 to June 15, 2013, these atrocities, extrajudicial killings further increased, as the report disclosed.
Besides Human Rights Watch, in its various reports, Amnesty International has also pointed out grave human rights violations in the Indian controlled Kashmir, indicating, “The Muslim majority population in the Kashmir Valley suffers from the repressive tactics of the security forces. Under the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, and the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act, security forces personnel have extraordinary powers to shoot suspected persons.”
In this respect, European Union passed a resolution on May 11, 2011 about human rights abuses committed by Indian forces in the Indian held Kashmir.
It is of particular attention that in 2008, a rights group reported unmarked graves in 55 villages across the northern regions of Baramulla, Bandipore and Handwara. Then researchers and other groups reported finding thousands of single and mass graves without markers. In this regard, in the last few years, rights groups discovered nearly 3,000 unnamed graves in the various districts of Kashmir.
In this respect, in August, 2011, Indian Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) officially acknowledged in its report that innocent civilians killed in the two-decade conflict have been buried in unmarked graves. The report indicated 2,156 unidentified bodies which were found in mass graves in various regions of the Indian-held Kashmir. Notably, foreign sources and human rights organisations have revealed that unnamed graves include those innocent persons, killed by the Indian military and paramilitary troops in the fake encounters including those who were tortured to death by the Indian secret agency RAW.
In its recent report China’s leading News Agency Xinhua has unearthed more gruesome details on world-stunning unmarked graves in Poonch of the Indian occupied Kashmir. The report revealed the statement of Sofi Aziz Joo, caretaker of a graveyard as saying, “Police and Army used to bring those bodies and direct me to bury them. The bodies were usually bullet-ridden, mutilated, faces disfigured and sometimes without limbs and heads.”
While, Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) and rights groups have pointed out that more than 10,000 people have disappeared, accusing government forces of staging fake gun battles to cover up killings. They also revealed that suspected persons had been arrested and were murdered through arbitrary executions, and then buried in unmarked graves.
It seems that non-condemnation of these Indian massive human rights violations and non-interference for the seettlement of this issue by the so-called civilised international community, especially the US have further encouraged New Delhi to keep on going with its state terrorism on the armless Kashmiri masses. Ignorence of the issue by them involves the risk of nuclear war between Pakistan and India.
Indian authorities are not willing to talk with Kashmiri people on political grounds. New Delhi has reached to a conclusion that only bullet is the right way of dealing with Kashmiris, demanding their right of self-determination. Surprisingly, Indian successive governments are trying to ignore the dynamics of the freedom movement of Kashmiris for the sake of their alien rule.
It is notable that dialogue between India and Pakistan took place on a number of occasions, but produced no outcome, prolonging the agony of the subjugated people of the occupied Kashmir due to Indian intransigence.
Nevertheless, observance of Kashmiris’ freedom struggle during the Martyrs’ Day every year is reaffirmation of the fact that Kashmiris will continue to fight against Indian illicit occupation. In this context, Youme Shuhada-e-Kashmir is an ideal day for Kashmiris to seek inspiration to take their war of liberation to its logical end. At this time of distress, the people of Pakistan’s side are sharing the grief of Kashmiri freedom lovers. Pakistan also observes Youme Shudaha-e-Kashmir on July 13, launching a protest against the oppressive polices of Indian occupation, which have continued against the hapless Kashmiris.
Nonetheless, on July 13, all over the world, Kashmiris renew their pledge to continue the ongoing war of liberation for the accomplishment of their right of self-determination and for the independence of Kashmir from the despotic Indian rulers who continue state terrorism in the Indian-controlled Kashmir.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations