Martyrs' Day: Mainstream parties pay tributes
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah led people of his state, including ministers as well as mainstream political parties, on Friday in paying tributes to 22 people killed in firing by soldiers on July 13, 1931 during the Dogra rule, observed as Martyrs' Day in the state.chandigarh Updated: Jul 13, 2012 19:57 IST
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah led people of his state, including ministers as well as mainstream political parties, on Friday in paying tributes to 22 people killed in firing by soldiers on July 13, 1931, observed as Martyrs' Day in the state.
On the other hand, separatist leaders, who claim these martyrs as their icons, were placed under preventive detention.
In the morning, Omar and his senior ministers were first to reach the graveyard at Naqshband Sahib, which was placed under multi-tier security to keep protesters at bay.
"Sacrifices of the martyrs to free society from autocracy and lay edifice for democracy and human dignity is one of the richest chapters of the history of Jammu and Kashmir.
"The best way to pay homage is to help create equitable and palatable environment for everyone to grow and develop in a democratic atmosphere," said Abdullah at the graveyard, situated deep inside separatists' bastion of the old city near Nowhata.
Besides the wreath-laying ceremony by the chief minister, a 21-gun salute and a guard of honour was presented by the police in memory of the 22 persons killed in the 1931 firing.
Opposition Peoples Democratic Party patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed followed the chief minister in paying tributes but expressed anguish over "unprecedented security arrangements".
"During the PDP-Congress rule, we never had to impose curfew or such restrictions on such a solemn day. To put entire population under such security restrictions goes against the spirit of democracy, for which these people laid down their lives in 1931," said Sayeed.
Since Thursday evening, authorities had stepped up security presence outside houses and offices of the separatists. Both moderate and hardline Hurriyat chairmen Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani were placed under house arrest. They had called for separate peaceful marches towards the martyrs' graveyard.
"It's an irony that on one hand the pro-India leaders visited the graveyard under security cover but on the other relatives and real representatives of these martyrs' goal were barred. This exposes the authorities' writ," said the Mirwaiz, while condemning the government's decision to bar him and other priests from performing Friday prayers in Jama Masjid and other mosques in old city.
JKLF chairman Yasin Malik, detained in his house, said, "The 1931 martyrs did not lay down their lives for power but to liberate people of Kashmir from slavery. We are the real guardians of these martyrs."
Other separatist leaders whose attempt to carry out a march was foiled by the police were Shabir Ahmad Shah, Javeed Mir, Hilal War and Nayeem Khan.
The government had imposed curfew-like restrictions in five major police stations in Srinagar to foil any attempt by protesters to create trouble.
A shootout at the city's central jail on July 13, 1931, had killed 22 people, protesting for the release of an under trial, Abdul Qadeer. These people were also calling for an end to the then monarchic rule in the state. Around 11 more people were killed outside Srinagar on the same day.