By Dr M. Khan -
At the global level, the 20th Century is marked by massive movements against colonial rule(s). 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 two-fold 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 yokes. It was July 13, 1931, a historical day, once Kashmiris overtly stood against tyrant Dogra Rule. On this historical day, thousands of Kashmiris gathered outside Srinagar Central Jail to witness the court proceedings of one of their colleagues, Abdul Qadeer, who raised voice against desecration of the Holy Quran by Dogra Army, which resulted into mass reaction against Dogra Rule all over the Jammu and Kashmir State.
This gathering of the Kashmiris outside Srinagar Central Jail was peaceful without any provocation. During the course of court proceedings, there was a time of Zuhar Prayers and a Kashmir youth stood for Azan. In the middle of Azan, the Dogra Army opened fire and the youth performing Azan embraced martyrdom. Though his fellowmen completed the Azan, however in the process, the Dogra Army killed twenty-two Muslim Kashmiris one by one through its firing. Later, it was revealed that, Mharaja himself order the firing through his Governor, Ray Zada Tartilok Chand. Thae Kashmiris subsequently buried the martyrs in Martyrs’ Graveyard at Khawaja Bazar, Srinagar after widespread demonstration. However, there was a complete strike throughout the state from July 13 to July 26, 1931.
Otherwise, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have a long history of undergoing the tyrant rule(s) and brutalities. 16th March 1846, however was the beginning of a new phase in their inopportune history. On this fateful 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. Hereafter, the people of the state were deprived of their own properties; hence, they ceased to be the owners of land, which they inherit from their ancestors. 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.
Youm-e-Shuhada-e-Kashmir, July 13, 1931 was a new beginning in the history of Kashmiri people. It gave new vigour and impetus to the Kashmiris Struggle for their right of self-determination. 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.
The people of Jammu and Kashmir observe Kashmiris Martyrdom each year with new determination and valour. The Kashmiri youth is determine to get their right of self-determination, despite the suppression and oppression of India and despite the global silence, ignorance and insensitivity. There is a need that international media must highlight the Indian brutalities against the innocent Kashmiri masses in IOK. The world over Kashmiri Diaspora needs to do a lot for awakening the global conscious over the mass killings and unprecedented human rights violations in the Indian occupied Kashmir.
— The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations, is based in Islamabad.