MUZAFFARABAD / ISLAMABAD: For the first time in the history of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), police would present a guard of honour on Monday (today to 22 Kashmiris who were martyred 89 years ago during a protest against the autocratic rule of a Hindu Maharaja in the Muslim majority state.

According to an official statement, the guard of honour to be followed by speeches by Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider and others would be part of the main ceremony scheduled to be held on the premises of the PM Secretariat to mark the Kashmir

Elsewhere, rallies, seminars and webinars would also be held in AJK and Pakistan to observe the day with full fervour and renewed pledge to continue to support the just struggle of the Kashmiri people.

It was on July 13, 1931, when tens of hundreds of Kashmiris had gathered outside the premises of Central Jail in Srinagar where Abdul Qadeer, a resident of British India, was being tried on the charge of sedition, for inciting Kashmiris against the Dogra ruler at a gathering in Khanqah-i-Muallah on June 21, the same year.

NA speaker says resolution of Kashmir issue is inevitable for peace

At the time of midday prayer, one of the crowd members stood to make a call to prayer and was shot dead by the police. He was succeeded by another member who met the same fate. In all, 22 men rose to complete the call to prayer and all were shot dead.

Interestingly, until last year the Kashmir Martyrs Day was also observed in India-held Kashmir. However, in December 2019, four months after revoking the special status of occupied Kashmir, the BJP government removed this day from the territory’s official holiday list.

On the other hand, while rallies and demonstrations were a common occurrence in AJK until last year to mark Kashmir Martyrs Day, this year Prime Minister Haider has decided to add a new feature to the day by giving a guard of honour to those martyrs.

“The fascist BJP government has imposed restrictions on observance of Kashmir Martyrs Day in the occupied territory. The AJK government will, however, mark this day in a befitting manner to pay glowing tribute to the martyrs,” Mr Haider said in a statement.

Recalling the supreme sacrifice of July 13, he pointed out that it was for the first time the Kashmiris had collectively stood up against the oppressive regime in their motherland.

“The martyrs of July 13 have written history with their sacred blood and the current liberation struggle has drawn inspiration from their sacrifice,” he said.

Mr Haider maintained that Kashmiris had been offering unprecedented sacrifices for their right to self-determination, the worst Indian oppression notwithstanding.

“I firmly believe that the sacred blood of Kashmiris will not go in vain and they will succeed in overthrowing unlawful Indian occupation.”

The AJK premier also called upon India to read the writing on the wall and grant Kashmiris their fundamental right to self-determination without further ado.

In a statement on the eve of the Kashmir Martyrs Day, AJK President Sardar Masood Khan, condemned the BJP government’s decision to cancel the commemoration of this day in occupied territory as yet another desperate attempt to muzzle the voices of Kashmiris.

In his message, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser said that resolution of Kashmir issue is inevitable for peace in the region and lauded Kashmiris’ struggle for freedom from Indian occupation.

He said that people of India-held Kashmir had given a lot of sacrifices in their struggle for freedom from Indian occupation and said that the day was not far off when they would be able to get freedom.

He said the blood of innocent Kashmiris would not go to waste as Kashmir was the unfinished agenda of the partition of subcontinent.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2020