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KASHMIR'S FRIIDOJ MOVE: A HISTORY

The people of Jammu Kashmir State, living in or outside their homeland, observe 13th of
July every year as Kashmir Martyrs' Day with due solemnity, sincerity and dedication. It
was on this day 64 years hack in 1931 that Kashmiris started their freedom struggle with
the blood of 22 sons of the soil shot dead by the armed forces of the despotic rulers
whose ancestors had purchased Kashmir along with its inhabitants, like a commercial
commodity, from the British who are not tired of claiming to be the guardians of human
rights and humanitarian values. Let us have a bird's cyevicw of Kashmir's freedom
movement.

During several thousand jears of its recorded history, Kashmir has faced ups and downs
of unparalleled nature. In the beginning of a century o.iC finds this most beautiful land at
the zenith of its glory, prosperity, strength and respect and inhabited by a proud, brave,
cultured and self-respecting nation. But by the turn of the same century one finds the
same Kashmir as a trodden, trampled, disfigured and defaced land lived in by
demoralised, meek and submissive populace. Its perimeter has also been expanding and
shrinking with the nature of the governments it has been having.

Before Muslims took over the throne of Kashmir in 1339 AD, it had been ruled by 21
dynasties of Hindus. Bhuddhists Jains and Zorastrans, 18 of whom were native during
country. Muslims ruled the State for 480 years (1339 to 1819 AD) which included 246
years of complete independence. It .was .during its independence specially during the
rules of native kings Lalita Ditya (715-752) and ZainuS Aabedeen Budshah (1420-1470
AD) that Kashmir reached the peaks of its glory. These tv»o periods are tailed the golden
eras of Kashmir history. Budshah, the great king as it means in Kashmiri language, used
to be called by thai name with love, respect and affection by Kashmiris, Muslims and
non-Muslims alike, who still love and respect him and hold him in high esteem.

The independence of Kashmir came into an end in 1585 when Akbar the Great, the all
powerful Mughal King of India annexed it but not before receiving t>\o.defeats at the
hands of112

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Kashmiris, perhaps the only two in his life. He could conquer Kashmir by conspiracy
only after sectarianism (Shia v/s.Sunni) had pitched Kashmiris against each other.
Mughal occupation came to an end in 1752 when it was occupied by the Durrani's of
Afghanistan >vho were ousted from Kashmir by the Sikhs of the Punjab in 1819. Sikhs
ruled Kashmir for 27 years until 1846 when they were defeated by the British with the
secret help of Raja Gulab Singh, an influential, powerful and shrewd member of Sikh
cabinet. Gulab Singh, not a Sikh as his surname suggests but a Dogra Hindu, was also the
Raja of Jammu. This position had also been given to him earlier by the Sikhs. Seven days
after the defeat of the Sikhs, which brought Kashmir under British control, the British
sold Kashmir along with its inhabitants to Gulab Singh, like a commercial commodity
for a sum of Rs. 7.5 million to be paid in instalments. This sale of land with human
beings and with a right given to the purchaser to treat the residents of the land as cattle,
was brought about under the ignominious Treaty of Amritsar of March 16, 1846. The
main purpose of the sale was to reward Gulab Singh for his treacherous help to the
British against his own masters.

Gulab Sindh and his successors ruled Kashmir with an iron hand. The ruler was a Hindu
whereas about 80 per cent of the population was Muslim who bore the main brunt of the
despotic rule. They did raise voices against the tyranny but they proved cries in the
wilderness until 1924 when they did cross the state boundaries. By 1931, Muslim
educated youth, planned to start a movement for their rights. For that purpose a few youth
from Jammu had come to Srinagar.

One day in the last week of June 1931 the youth leaders from Jammu and Srinagar had a
big public meeting in Srinagar in which it was decided to send a delegation to the ruler to
convey the gric\ anccs of the people to him. Towards the end of the meeting, one Abdul
Qadcer, and Indian Muslim who happened to be watching the proceedings of the
meetings, rose up and delivered a fiery speech saying that h was no use begging for
rights. He called upon Kashmiris to rise in open revolt against the despotic ruler. He
received loud applause from the audience. The Stale authorities arrested him the same
night. His arrest charged the atmosphere and people became restive. The programme of
sending the delegation to the ruler was.ajso cancelled.

On July 13, 1931, Abdul Qadeer was to be produced in the court. Apprehending trouble
from the people, it was decided at the eleventh hour that court proceedings be held within
the prison premises, thousands of people rushed towards Central Jail.. Some

tried to push their way into the prison premises. Feeling under pressure due to presence of
thousands of slogan-chanting people, the authorities called in the army which started
firing indiscriminately immediately after reaching there. Twenty-two persons were killed
on the spot and scores more injured. All the dead had received bullets in their chests or
faces which spoke a lot about the popular sentiments at the time. Thinking that things
might get out of control, the government imposed Martial Law. The dead were buried in a
ground in the centre of the city the next day and the graveyard named as Mazar-e-
Shohada (martyrs graveyard) which has since been inspiring Kashmiris and strengthening
the popular aspirations for freedom. The incident of July 13, 1931 proved a turning point
in the political history of Kashmir. Within a short time the first political party of
Kashmiris Muslims came into being. A commission was appointed to report about the
genuine grievances of the people. A Legislative Assembly was established within three
years of the incident and the freedom movement continued getting stronger and stronger.
But in 1947, when Kashmiris were knocking 3.* the very doors of freedom from despotic
Dogra rule after the British had quit the Sub-Continent, they, like the proverbial fish that
had struggled its way out of the frying pan but had fallen into the fire, were pounced upon
by a bigger monster in the shape of free India. Nevertheless, Kashmiris freed about one-
third of their homeland from Indian yoke but the rest still remains under forced
occupation of India. Unfortunately, the leaders of the freed areas, bulk of which, Gilgit-
Baltistan, are under direct control of Pakistan and the rest as a semi-independent territory,
also failed to perform their duties towards their national emancipation.

History of Kashmir and of Kashmir issue since 1947 is too well known to be narrated
here in detail. In short, it is a sad and shameful story of broken promises, dishonoured
pledges, baseless and misdirected steps on the part of Pakistan; of extreme selfishness
and short-sightedness on the part of most Kashmiri leaders and of double standards and
apathy towards its duties concerning human rights, on the part of international
community in general and the United Nations in particular. For 40 long years after 1947,
Kashmiris tried peacefully to persuade India to honour her pledges of conceding to them
their right of self-determination but failed. As such they decided to resort to the only
alternative available to them, i.e., armed freedom struggle and started it in 1988 under the
banner of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). 114 Emporium Current Essays

November 6: Jammu Martyrs Day

November 6, the blackest day in the history of Kashmir liberation movement, is being
observed this year amidst India's inhuman record of repression in the Held Kashmir and
its hectic attempts to get permanent membership of the Security Council.

The history of Jmnmu Martyrs Day (November 6) goes back to 1947 when the British
Governor-General, Lord Mounlbatten, approved the document on Jammu and Kashmir
state's accession to India and landing of Indian forces at the Srinagar air base on October
27,1947 that provoked the Muslims of Jammu who revolted against the decision. The
Dogra army launched an anti-Muslim operation attacking the surrounding villages of
Jammu. Fifteen thousand Mujahideen laid down their Jives in Akhnore is a single day. An
other 25,000 Muslims embraced martyrdom in Mirau Saheb. The same exercise was
repeated in. Kathua and other places.

Thousands of Muslim women and girSs were abducted and molested. On the other side,
the Muslim of Poonch also rose up. Maharaja Tara Devi ordered the Hindus and the Sikh
to stop water and power supplies to the Muslims of Jammu city who were checking the
Dogra army with batons, lathis, swords and homemade bombs. The situation persisted in
the city until it was announced on November 5 that the Muslims should lay down their
arms and assemble at the Platoon Ground for transportation to Pakistan. Hundreds of
thousands of Muslims left their homes and hearths and assembled at the parade ground.
They were loaded on
70 trucks and taken to Kathua Road to be slaughtered. They included prominent
intellectuals, professors, doctors, engineers and politicians as well as the family of
Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas.

Another caravan, which left on Thursday, the 6th of November, just avoided being
massacred. More than a hundred girls were abducted and raped. The report of the averted
massacre was concealed from the people of the state until Shaikh Mahmood Abdullah,
who had been installed as the head of the puppet administration, reached Jammu and the
injured Muslims were taken to the Dagiana Camp.

The fact remains that it was the most tragic incident of the
1947 violence and Pundit Jawahar Lai Nehru himself said, "I am

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socked over the incidents that occurred in early November. A

caravan on the Muslims, on fts way from Jammu, was attacked by

I non-Muslims. The security forces did not discharge their duty

(honestly. But I want to make it clear that none of our units was

^present and we have no connection with the incident." In spite of the

I admission, Nehru distorted facts at the behest of the Indian

| government and the army and the state Muslims were wiped out

under a pre-planned conspiracy. The Sanghis and Sikhs, who took

part in the operation, were Awarded cash prizes and medals.

Earlier, during the siege of the city, the Indian forces shot at the

Muslims and the Indian Air Force dropped bombs on the Muslim

village. The Editor of Calcutta-based English daily The Statesman,

writes in his book, Honed Moon, that by the autumn of 1947, the

I populace of 500,000 Muslims had been completely eliminated. Of

I them, over 300,000 were wiped out while the rest took refuge in the
I Pakistani Punjab.

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