THE decades’ old Kashmir struggle is not a story of single day but it comprises unknown bloodshed and sacrifices which paved the way for this struggle to continue and deter occupation forces. July 13 is marked as Kashmir Martyrs Day throughout the country. The Day is a milestone in the history, as it has become dawn of the Kashmir’s struggle for independence against foreign occupation. This martyr’s day marks the beginning of liberation movement that resulted in armed uprising and struggle against the autocratic rule of Maharaja of Kashmir in 1947. It was on July13, 1931 when 22 Kashmiris were gunned down by Dogra army and police in front of Central Jail Srinagar. This incident in history was later known as “bastille of the Kashmir”.
History of Kashmir narrates about this incident that agitation began in April, 1931 when Dogra rulers imposed ban on Eid and other religious sermons and Dogra forces deliberately desecrated Holy Quran. One of the young boy named Abdul Qadeer at that time along with other youngsters raised slogan that ‘destroy every brick of this’ by pointing towards the Dogra palace. It was then, this boy was taken into custody for trial. However, with fear of resentment Dogra troops shifted him to Central Jail of Srinagar. On July, 13 when his trial began large number of Kashmiris gathered outside jail to witness hearings. As the time for one of prayer began a young boy from the protesters stood and started calling Azaan. The Dogra Governor ordered his soldiers to open fire and so that youngster got martyred. But the youth and people did not let Azaan to be left uncompleted and as soon as first youngster martyred other on stood up and started Azaan and hence 22 Kashmiris got martyred in this effort to complete call for prayers. Later this incident called for widespread protests throughout Kashmir and other parts of subcontinent against the Dogra rule.
The Kashmiri leadership with such violation of rights decided to form their own political party to determine a right direction and spearhead the freedom movement and that party was given a name Muslim Conference. Later on this party in the elections of 1934 won 10 seats out of 21 and in 1936 elections they were able to hold 19 seats. Indian Congress remained upset with the victory of Muslim Conference and tried to create differences among leadership. Subsequently, on July 19, 1947, MC passed a resolution to merge Kashmir with Pakistan, not only considering the terrestrial vicinity but the area of majority of Muslim population which shared cultural affinities too. Therefore 13 July which is observed as Kashmir martyr’s day, July 19 also holds special significance in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. On this day Muslims of Kashmir took the decision of accession to Pakistan to protect their religious, geographical, economic and political rights. Pakistan came into being on August 14, 1947, whereas the general council of All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference decided to accede to Pakistan much earlier on 19th July 1947, through a unanimous resolution. But regrettably, more than seventy years have passed but our poor Kashmiri brethren are fighting for their legitimate right of freedom and accession to Pakistan. History has witnessed many freedom movements world over. The struggles sooner or later succeeded with varying price tag ranging from few hundred to some thousands lives. Unfortunately, there is a freedom movement which is on for the more than six decades and is still anticipating its triumph. This movement has legal backing of no less than UN and Security Council’s repeated resolutions. The price paid so far is over 100,000 lives and hundreds of thousands of gang rapes in addition to other human rights violations. The movement is termed as Kashmir freedom Movement.
Going a little back in history will help the audience to understand the Kashmir predicament. During the partition of the Sub-continent, the people of Muslim majority State of Jammu and Kashmir decided to join Pakistan according to the British-led formula. But, Dogra Raja Hari Singh, then Hindu ruler of J&K, in connivance with the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Governor General Lord Mountbatten joined India. The real design to forcibly gain Kashmir began to unfold on August 16, 1947, with the announcement of the Red Cliff Boundary Award. It gave the Gurdaspur District, a majority Muslim area, to India to provide a land route to the Indian armed forces to move into Kashmir. This led to a rebellion by State forces, which stood against the Maharaja and were joined by Pathan tribesmen. When Pakistan responded militarily against the Indian aggression, on December 31, 1947, India made an appeal to the UN Security Council to intervene and a ceasefire ultimately came into effect on January 01, 1949, following UN resolutions calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir. On February 5, 1964, India backed out of its promise of holding plebiscite. Instead, in March 1965, the Indian Parliament passed a bill, declaring Kashmir a province of India, and integral part of the Indian union. The bloody tragedy of poor Kashmiris had started after 1947 when they were denied their legitimate and UN approved right of self-determination. As a natural outcome of Indian injustice, people of IOK organized themselves and launched a war of liberation which India tried to crush through coercion and brutalities. Later, in 1988, Indian positioned a very large number of Armed Forces to suppress Kashmir struggle on gun point. The wave of violence stills continues after the post Burhan Wani uprising and every day Kashmiris are sacrificing their lives for freedom from Indian rule. International watchdogs have many at times called for revoking of AFSPA and urged investigations for the human rights violations in J&K by an “independent and impartial” authority. Amnesty International and Human Rights organizations time and again have appealed India to stop atrocities and violence in IOK. Pakistan has always extended full diplomatic support on Kashmir cause and will continue to do so unless a peaceful solution comes up.
— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.