Separatists and mainstream political parties are in for a major showdown on Wednesday on the 80th anniversary of the killing of dissident and rebellious Kashmiris during the Dogra rule. Security has been beefed up in sensitive areas of Srinagar to stop any eventuality in the backdrop of the rallies scheduled by both separatists and mainstream political parties.
Moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has called for peaceful rallies across the valley, while chief minister Omar Abdullah is slated to pay tributes to the martyrs early in the morning followed by Kashmir's main opposition Peoples Democratic Party leadership.
Srinagar's Naqsband Sahib graveyard, which houses the graves of martyrs who laid down their lives on July 13, 1931 in an uprising against the monarchy of Dogra rulers, was sanitized by the security forces on Tuesday.
Senior police officials and contingents of police personnel sealed the shrine to inspect the site, which has become the only space owned both by the separatists and the mainstream political parties.
"These martyrs laid down lives to protest against anti-Muslim Dogra rulers and their monarchy…since 1931 till 2010, when more than 100 people were killed, people of Kashmir are offering sacrifices to carry forward the mission of the 1931 martyrs," said the moderate Hurriyar pamphlet distributed on the eve of commemoration of the martyrs.
Both moderate and hardline Hurriyats see the martyrs's mission an unfinished agenda, while as the mainstream political parties see the martyrs' agenda fulfilled with the toppling of the Dogra rule in the state in 1947.
"The sacrifice of the martyrs to free the society from autocracy and lay edifice for democracy and human dignity is one of the richest chapters of the history of J-K…The best way to pay homage to the martyrs is to help create equitable and palatable environment for everyone to grow and nurture in a democratic atmosphere," said Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in his message on the occasion.
But the chief minister's bete noir hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani accused the parent organization of Omar, the National Conference (NC), of "trading the blood of the martyrs".
"The mainstream political parties, both the NC and the PDP, do not have the right to lay flower wreathes on the graves of the martyrs. They have already bartered their blood for power and position," said Geelani.
The 82-year-old Hurriyat leader said "the 2008, 2009 and 2010 agitations are continuation of the same struggle set rolling by the martyrs of 1931. The martyrs' mission to liberate Kashmir will be taken to its logical end".
The hardline Hurriyat has called for a congregation at Eidgah, where people who died since 1989 militant uprising are buried. "Hurriyat leaders will address the congregation and march towards the Naqsbandh Sahib graveyard," said Hurriyat spokesman Ayaz Akbar.
The moderate Hurriyat has also called for a separate rally from Srinagar's historic Jamia Masjid to Naqsbandh Sahib graveyard in the afternoon. "We do not plan to have any subversive activities. We want to offer tributes," said the Mirwaiz.
Accusing the state government of "putting restrictions on Hurriyat leaders and declaring victory by putting the youth behind the bars", the Mirwaiz said: "It's like tying our hands and launching a goal in the goal post. What democracy do they talk about?"
The moderate Hurriyat is planning rallies in north Kashmir's Kupwara district and Pattan area, central Kashmir's Budgam district and Srinagar. The Hurriyat has called for a complete shutdown on the day.
The security forces are leaving nothing to change. "We will put in extra measures for tomorrow to stop the situation turning ugly," said a senior police officer pleading anonymity.