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J&K: No function on July 13 martyrs' day, all roads to graveyard blocked; Mehbooba calls it an attempt to distort Kashmir’s history

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Tuesday, 13 July 2021 (14:08 IST)
Srinagar: There was no official or unofficial (political) function at “Mazaar-e-Shoudah”, the graveyard of 22 Kashmiris who were killed on this day in 1931 by police outside the central Jail, Srinagar, during Dogra rule.

Several regional political parties, including National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had sought permission from the Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, to pay tributes to martyrs of July 13, 1931 today. However, the permission was denied as per political parties.

All roads leading to the martyrs' graveyard at Khawaja Naqashband Sahib shrine in the downtown were blocked with barbed wire and bullet proof vehicles parked in the middle since late Monday night. Large number of paramilitary forces and Jammu and Kashmir police personnel have been deployed to prevent assembly of people at the graveyard.

We have been directed not to allow anybody, including journalists, to enter the premises of Khawaja Sahib,'' security forces deployed at Rangar Stop told a UNI correspondent.

The situation is well under control and residents in the area are cooperating and remained indoor, they said.

However, they said, in case of any emergency they will extend all assistance to those who need, the security forces holding automatic weapons and wearing bullet proof jackets said.

Similar scenes were witnessed at Gojawara and Nowhatta, where the main road leading to the graveyard, remained closed.

Local residents recalled that on this day before 2019, ruling and opposition politicians besides separatists leaders were visiting the graveyard and paying their tributes to martyrs. A guard of honour was also presented by police personnel on the occasion.

However, during the PDP and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition government, the saffron party ministers and leaders always stayed away from official functions as Jammu based political parties were opposing official holiday and functions, considering it against the Dogra (Jammu) region.

Shops and business establishments in the downtown, including Nallahmar, Gojawara, Jamia Masjid market remained closed.

However, some shops, particularly selling vegetables, meat and chicken, were open and private vehicles are plying on Nallahmar road and outskirts though public transport was off the roads.

Business and other activities remained affected in other parts of the down town, including Rainawari, Khanayar and Bobdamb.

Shops and business establishments remained closed in the historic Lal Chowk, the nerve centre of the city, Budshah Chowk, Hari Singh High Streets and other business hubs. However, transport was plying normally on all routes.

Life was normal in the outskirts and uptown, where business activities were normal and transport plying as usual.

Meanwhile, former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday alleged that all roads leading to the graveyard of July 13 martyrs in the downtown Srinagar, have been blocked.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba further alleged that not allowing leaders of different political parties to offer fateha and pay tributes to them (martyrs) was an attempt to distort and rewrite Kashmir’s history.

Taking to micro-blogging site Mehbooba said, “Today on the occasion of Martyr’s day, gates leading to their graveyards have been locked up. Attempts to distort & rewrite Kashmir’s history is being done only to create a sense of defeat & helplessness amongst Kashmiris”.

“Nevertheless as we pay homage to the heroes of 13th July, 1931 our resolve to strive for restoration of J&Ks dignity remains firm”, she further tweeted.

The PDP in a letter to Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, had sought permission to visit and pay tributes to martyrs at the shrine of Khawaja Naqashbandi Sahib at Khawaja Bazar in the downtown. However, the request was allegedly turned down by the administration.

On this day in 1931, police during Dogra rule opened fire outside the Central Jail, Srinagar, on people who had gathered there to protest against the arrest of Abdul Qadeer for challenging the autocratic rule. Case of Qadeer was being heard in the jail when firing took place outside.

Besides official function to pay homage to martyrs, opposition parties were also paying floral tributes at the grave yard. Governors, Chief Ministers, other ministers and Director General’s of police were also paying tributes to martyrs on this day every year since 1948. However, the official holiday and functions were discontinued after the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories (UTs) on August 5, 2019. Last year, no function was held due to Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. (Inputs from UNI)

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