A fight against tyranny

Human history is replete with oppression, persecution and the denial of basic human rights to subjugated masses by tyrant rulers and the resistance by the oppressed against the injustices perpetrated on them, leading to barbaric responses by the rulers to quell the uprisings. Kashmir is quintessential of this regrettable phenomenon with roots in the pre-partition era.

The people of Kashmir probably have the longest history of suffering and resistance against tyranny, persecution as well as for the right to self-determination. Their ordeal started under the oppressive Dogra rule before partition of the sub-continent. The Dogra dynasty ruled Kashmir for almost a century. The Muslims, though formed the majority of the population, were treated very badly. The regime and its administration also interfered in the religious affairs of the Muslim community. There was widespread discontent and resentment against the oppressive governance which kept simmering underneath till it found expression in the agitation that happened in the backdrop of the arrest of a young Muslim man Abdul Qadeer on the charges of terrorism and inciting the public against the Maharaja of Kashmir. The youth had delivered a speech against the unjust treatment of Muslims.

Perhaps it would be pertinent to have a peek into the background to this agitation for the benefit of the readers to enable them to understand the issue in its true perspective. The agitation occurred as a result of a sequence of incidents. In the first instance a leading land-holder of Udham Pur of Jummu converted to Islam. The Hindu registrar (Tehsildar) issued a fresh mutation of his lands, eliminated his name and mutated the same in the name of his brother. The landlord filed a suit that was dismissed with the remarks that unless he re-entered Hindu faith, he was not entitled to any property. This was done in accordance with a decree issued by the Dogra Government on 31 December 1882. A protest rally was organised against this ban.

The crowd marched to the city’s main mosque, where a brief meeting was held condemning the incident. It was resolved to hold a protest meeting in the evening. The Muslims felt deeply hurt, politically suppressed and economically strangulated. The interference in their religious matters aroused deep hatred against the rulers and protest meetings became quite frequent.

The Muslims also brought a complaint in the court of “Additional District Magistrate” under section 296 Ranbir Penal Code against the Hindu inspector for disturbing a religious assembly, which was dismissed because the Hindu Magistrate held that a Khutba (sermon) was not a part of the prayers.

Yet another incident which further infuriated the Muslims was desecration of the Holy Quran. Reportedly some pages of the Holy Book were found in the public toilet. It badly hurt the Muslims prompting them to hold a big protest rally. The arrest of Abdul Qadeer proved to be the last straw on the camel’s back. On July 13, 1931, a sizeable Muslim crowd was agitating against his arrest outside the Srinagar Central Jail. According to recorded evidence police fired 160 rounds of bullets into the crowd, killing seventeen people on the spot while another five died later in the hospital. A Hindu writer, Prem Nath Bazz in his work ‘Inside Kashmir’ published in 1941 wrote, “The driving force behind the mass agitation till the 13th July was the discontent among the rank and file of the Muslims. The attack on the jail was in no way directed against the Hindus, and those who laid down their lives at the jail gate did so fighting against an unsympathetic government… It was a fight of the tyrannised against their tyrants, of the oppressed against the oppressors.”

Since July 13, 1931 the people of Kashmir observe Youm-e-Shuhada-Kashmir (Martyrs Day) every year on both sides of the Line of Control and all over the world where the Kashmiri diaspora resides, to commemorate the sacrifices of those who laid down their lives for their righteous cause. The incident marked the beginning of the modern era Kashmiri freedom struggle which has traversed through different phases including civilian protests, political agitation and armed struggle. This year, the people of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) also observed the day with a renewed determination to continue their struggle for their right to self-determination paying tributes to the martyrs of July 13. There was a complete shutter down strike in the valley at the call of Hurriyat leaders. Kashmiris around the world also paid tributes to the Kashmiri martyrs.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his message on the day, rightly saluted the Kashmiri martyrs of July 13, terming them the forefathers of Kashmiri resistance today which was defying the Hindutva supremacist regime, reiterating Pakistan’s continued support to their right of self-determination.

The Modi government has further aggravated the situation by ending the special status of IO&JK, its annexation to the Indian Union in sheer violation of the UNSC resolutions and international law. Kashmir is under continued lockdown since August 5, 2019 and the killing spree continues unabated. India has also adopted a belligerent posture towards Pakistan and the latter rightly feels that Indian disposition towards her and what it has done in IO&JK inebriated by RSS philosophy of Hindutva, constitutes a grave threat to the security of the region. However, the redeeming factor is that unnerved by the Indian atrocities and illegal actions of Modi government the people of IO&JK are continuing their fight against tyranny and for their right to self-determination and are determined to take to its logical end no matter how many more sacrifices they might have to render for their cause. Regrettably the world community and the UN which is under obligation to have its resolutions implemented remain oblivious to the sufferings of the people of Kashmir. Indian oppression in IO&JK and its defiance of the UNSC resolutions is indeed an affront to the conscience of the global community. How long it can afford to be indifferent remains to be seen.