Saffron Groups Line Up Against Martyrs' Day

11 July 2015
Kashmir Dispatch
Wasim Khalid

Srinagar: The PDP's coalition partner, BJP, while refusing to observing July 13 as Martyrs' Day, has said that 'deliberations' should be initiated to determine whether the people who fell to bullets of the Maharaja's forces in 1931 were 'martyrs or not'. 'BJP will not observe the so-called Martyrs' Day on July 13,' BJP state Vice-President Ramesh Arora told Kashmir Reader. 'Why will we observe this day? We have never done so. We won't do it in the future.' Arora said it was questionable whether the 22 Kashmiris who were killed by Dogra forces were martyrs or not. 'We want a comprehensive discussion on this subject. We should know the definition of those martyrs. You can't call people dying in an incident as martyrs. So, a deliberation is need on this issue,' he added. Pertinently, the government also observes Martyrs' Day or 'Youm-e-Shuhada-e-Kashmir' on July 13 to commemorate the Kashmiris who were martyred by the despotic Dogra forces in 1931, which is widely seen in Kashmir as the start of a new freedom movement. Both pro-India and pro-freedom parties own the martyrs and usually resolve to take their mission forward. But that's not how the BJP sees it. 'The July 1931 event was a protest against the established rule. How can a man (Dogra Maharaja) who acceded to India be an oppressor? He was certainly an upright person. There was a motivated plan to malign him and show him in bad light. The events in 1931 were part of such a move,' Arora said. On his part, the head of Panun Kashmir Ashwani Charangoo said they would observe July 1931 as 'black day'. He claimed that on that day organised attacks were undertaken against Kashmiri Pandits and their houses were ransacked and Pandits were killed. 'It was an assertion of a militant identity,' Charangoo said. 'It was not martyrdom for freedom struggle. If it was so then why did Jammu and Ladakh have to become hostage to a particular community's views. National parties do not observe this day. It is only Kashmir-centric parties who observe this day and try to gain political mileage out of it,' he added. Another Hindutva group, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has also strongly opposed the observance of July 13 as Martyrs' Day. The party had even claimed that in the 1930's Abdul Qadir - the cook of a British Intelligence Officer - came to the state and started an anti-India movement along with local Muslims as part of a conspiracy. The VHP said the observance of Martyrs' Day sends a 'wrong signal' to other community members who have been 'forced to leave their homes' 25 years ago.