Dr Muhammad Khan
EACH year, July 13 is observed as Youm-i-Shudha-i-Kashmir by Kashmiris throughout the world. On this day in 1931, Kashmiris overtly reacted against the oppression of Dogra Rule through a unique chapter of sacrifices. This pattern of sacrifices had no precedence in the history of human beings. On the historical day of July 13, 1931, thousands of Kashmiris gathered outside Srinagar Central Jail to witness the court proceedings of one of their colleague, Abdul Qadeer, who raised voice against desecration of the Holy Quran by the Dogra Army, which resulted into mass reaction against the Dogra Rule all over the Jammu and Kashmir.
This gathering of the Kashmiris outside Srinagar Central Jail was unarmed, peaceful and law abiding citizens. While the court proceedings were continuing, it was time for Zuhar Prayers and a Kashmir youth stood for Azan (a call for prayers). In the middle of Azan, the Dogra Army opened fire and the youth performing Azan embraced martyrdom. In order to complete the remaining portion of Azan, yet another Kashmiri youth succeeded him, but he too was fired upon and killed. In this way, in the process, of completion of Azan, Dogra Army killed twenty-two Kashmiri Muslims, one after the other. After this brutal incident, it was revealed that, Maharaja of Kashmir himself has ordered for this firing through his Governor, Ray Zada Tartilok Chand.
The brave but grieved Kashmiris subsequently buried the martyrs in Martyrs’ Graveyard at Khawaja Bazar, Srinagar after widespread demonstration. A complete strike was observed throughout the state of Jammu and Kashmir from July 13 to July 26, 1931, showing their anger against this cruel incident. This incident gave Kashmiris a new vigour, a new determination and indeed, a new and bold course of action with unity for their freedom from brutal Dogra Rule. In the subsequent days, the first ever-political party of Kashmir, “All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference” came into being. The party had in its very manifesto, the restoration of the political, religious, economic and social rights of the people of Kashmir, which were ceased after Kashmir Sale Deed in March 1846. Tracing the history of colonialism, 20th Century is marked by massive movements against colonial rule. Among others, the people of Sub-continent also started their demand for the end of British Colonial rule. The people of Jammu and Kashmir, however, had twofold colonialism imposed over them; a tyrant Dogra Rule and a discriminatory British Colonialism. For a long, Kashmiris were covertly struggling for their freedom from these multiple yokes. Otherwise, there is a long history of the struggle of people of Jammu and Kashmir against tyrant rules and brutalities.
In the unfortunate history of Kashmiris, 16th March 1846, is a dark day. On this day, British East India Company sold not only the territory of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, but also the people of Kashmir to cruel Dogra rulers, depriving the people of their properties and basic human rights. As quoted by Sir Walter Lawrence in his book, ‘The India We Served’ “The 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.”
In fact, under the Dogra Rule, the people of Kashmir were nothing other than the, “free forced labour” as described by the famous Kashmiri writer, Yousaf Saraf in his book, ‘Kashmiris Fight for Freedom’. He further described that, “instead of donkeys and horses, Kashmiri Muslims were used for transportation of goods across the far-flung areas”. The Muslim population of Kashmir were deprived of their basic human rights and in some cases were even bared from performing their religious obligations. Such an incident took place on April 19, 1931, when Eid Khutba was banned in Jammu. The Muslims of the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir took this ultimate step of the Dogra Ruler very seriously. It was indeed, interference in their religion or subsequently a step towards banning the religious obligations of the Muslims. In reaction, there were widespread demonstrations in entire Kashmir for many days. As it was not enough, there was desecration of the Holy Quran by the Dogra Army, which resulted into mass reaction against the Dogra Rule all over the Jammu and Kashmir, during which Abdul Qadeer raised slogan against the Maharaja and later tried on July 13, 1931.
Indeed, the years of discrimination, suppression and oppression at the hands of despotic Dogra rule, have compelled the Kashmiris to stand for their basic right. The process started with ‘Reading Room Party’ in 1919. It was a covert Kashmiri movement for their rights and creation of awareness among the masses. The event of July 13, 1931 indeed, paved the way for an overt Kashmiri political struggle and a new turning point in the history of Kashmiri Muslims. In fact, it was formal beginning for the political rights of the people in the entire state. The subsequent years saw a remarkable change and people started demanding their rights from tyrant Dogra rulers. It was a parallel movement of Kashmiris with ‘All India Muslim League’ struggling for the political rights of Indian Muslims. Each year, the Kashmiris throughout the world, observe Kashmiris Martyrdom Day (July 13) with new determination and vigour. In Indian occupied Kashmir, the Kashmir youth have taken over the movement for their right of self-determination. The occupying Indian Army and paramilitary forces are busy killing the Kashmiri youth at will. Despite a call from UN Human Rights for the inquiry of human rights violations in IOK, Indian forces are continuing with their oppressive campaign against Kashmir youth, demanding their right of self-determination through peaceful demonstration. It is time that, international community to pursue India to allow the investigation of massive human rights violations in IOK.
— The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations, is based in Islamabad.