Regional Divide Marks July 13 Function

13 July 2014
The Tribune (Chandigarh)

Jammu: The state observes 'martyrs' day' on July 13 to remember the 21 persons killed in police firing in Srinagar in 1931 during the reign of the Dogras, but a regional divide is always visible over the event which changed the course of history in the state. While the day is of little significance in Ladakh, July 13 is observed as 'black day' in the Jammu region and several organisations, including displaced Kashmiri Hindus, protest every year to mark the day of the 'first reported case of organised communal violence' in Kashmir. Except for some functions and laying of wreaths at the 'martyrs' graveyard' in Srinagar, people across the region have never attached much importance to the event, which started a chain reaction leading to formation of the National Conference, rise of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and fall of the Dogra dynasty, which had ruled the state since 1845. The incident of 1931 revolves around Abdul Qadeer, a cook with a British officer, who delivered a fiery speech against Maharaja Hari Singh. Qadeer was arrested and put on trial for sedition, but in view of a popular upsurge, his trial was shifted to the Srinagar Central Jail. The gathering near the jail was fired upon after a mob tried to enter the jail to free the inmates, leading to the casualties. The Kashmira Vahini, a displaced Kashmiri Pandit women's organisation, led a protest. The function was addressed by writer and poet Dr Khema Kaul and Panun Kashmir leaders Dr Ajay Chrangoo and Dr Agnishekhar. 'Official history has always tried to portray the incident as an outburst against the autocratic rule of the maharaja, but it was an event which shook the foundation of secularism in Kashmir. Members of the minority community and traders were attacked,' said Kaul. Panun Kashmir chairman Chrangoo and convener Agnishekhar alleged that while the freedom struggle in the rest of India was against British imperialists, the local uprising in Kashmir in 1931 was against Dogra rulers, who were from the state and had established the modern state.