Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday paid tribute to Kashmiris on Youm-e-Shuhada-e-Kashmir (Kashmir Martyrs Day) for their "valiant fight and defiance against a Hindutva supremacist regime".
In a tweet, the premier referred to the 22 Kashmiris who were martyred 89 years ago during a protest against the autocratic rule of a Hindu Maharaja in the Muslim majority state as the "forefathers of today's Kashmiri resistance".
"Their descendants have, generation after generation, laid down their lives for freedom and today they continue to valiantly fight & defy a Hindutva Supremacist regime bent on demographic engineering to wipe out the Kashmiri people & their identity," Khan tweeted.
He said Pakistan had always stood with the Kashmiris in their struggle for self-determination and would continue to stand with them in their "just struggle" till the Indian-occupied valley is free from illegal occupation, adding that the day was "not far".
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, while paying tribute to the martyrs said that their courage had "regalvanised a decades old struggle for self-determination in 1931", which he said was an "inalienable right Kashmiris continue to die for to this day".
He added that no occupation could "subjugate [the brave] spirit of Kashmir".
In a statement, he said that there had been ups and downs in the Kashmiris "exemplary struggle" from 1931 to 2020 but it had not "dampened their spirits". He said that India had brought in new laws and had used every type of tactic. India had even tried to "buy out" the Kashmiri leadership, Qureshi said, but it had failed.
He assured the people of the valley that despite facing "problems and pain", they were not alone. "Today, every child in Pakistan and all the political and defence leadership is standing with you in your struggle for self-determination and will continue standing with you until it is achieved."
He added that the premier had raised the issue of Kashmir on every international forum, saying that he realised that "some of Pakistan's allies could not raise their voices [on Kashmir] because of their economic conditions".
"The world community remained silent when thousands of people were killed in Serbia. Will it repeat the same mistake in occupied Kashmir?" he questioned, adding that the world must learn from the massacre.
The foreign minister said that India was being "exposed" in front of the world as shown by the recent clash between India and China in Ladakh.
He urged the entire Muslim ummah to become the voice of the people in occcupied Kashmir and to use social media to make their voices heard "even in parts of the world that have gone deaf".
Inter-services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar, in a tweet, said Kashmir Martyrs Day was "reminiscent of utmost price paid for freedom by brave Kashmiris".
He said "decades of Indian atrocities failed to suppress insurmountable spirit & legitimate freedom struggle" of the Kashmiris, which was "destined to succeed".
PML-N chief and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif said the 22 martyred Kashmiris in 1931 had "written a history of bravery".
"Despite intensification of violence post-August 5 by India, Kashmiris of all ages & across genders are challenging Modi’s fascism today with their blood. They are hope of future!" he tweeted.
Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said since the martyrdom of the 22 Kashmiris, "generations of Kashmiris have continued their struggle for freedom from illegal Indian occupation" and thousands of them have been martyred.
She added that the struggle continued till date "as the fascist Modi government tries an illegal annexation of IOJK & seeks to change the demography of the occupied territory against all international law incl[uding] Fourth Geneva Convention" and paid tribute to the "commitment and bravery" of the people of the occupied valley.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said every Kashmiri martyr was the reason "we can never ignore the plight of our Kashmiri brothers".
"Kashmiris have been fighting against Indian atrocities and leading a freedom struggle for decades. India's violent, extremist & racist governments have butchered their rights," he added.
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.
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 occupied 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.
Occupied Kashmir sees 229 killings in first half of 2020: report
The occupied valley has seen at least 229 killings during more than 100 military operations since January, according to a recently released report by the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS).
From January 1 to June 30, the region witnessed the extrajudicial executions of at least 32 civilians and the killing of 54 armed forces personnel, the report stated.
It also saw 55 internet shutdowns and the destruction of 48 structures.
The report said three children and two women were also killed, while at least "107 cordon and search operations and cordon and destroy operations were conducted in the region".
The Indian government had on August 5, 2019 repealed Article 370 of its constitution, stripping occupied Kashmir of its special status. It also divided up occupied Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories; one Jammu and Kashmir, and the other the Buddhist-dominated high altitude region of Ladakh. The bifurcation of the territory came into effect on October 31 last year.
A strict lockdown and communications blackout has been in place in occupied Kashmir since August last year, with reports suggesting limited mobile data services and internet were temporarily restored in the region in January.
Additional reporting by Naveed Siddiqui.