If you always believed the tensions in Kashmir has its roots in the partition of British India, then let us tell you that it started 16 years before the partition of India and Pakistan. On July 13, 1931, the first ever organised communal carnage in the history of modern Kashmir took place. The rioters who lost their lives are today hailed as martyrs. After the formation of India, the state government of Jammu and Kashmir officially announced the dead as fallen heroes.
Here’s what happened
In 1931, Jammu and Kashmir were ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh. The British wanted Singh to lease them Gilgit Agency - a system of administration established by British Indian Empire to strengthen Jammu and Kashmir. Singh denied. The British were aware of the vulnerable point. Singh was a Hindu king who ruled Muslims. The British decided to brainwash the Muslims. According to an article published in Daily O, Abdul Qadir from Peshawar and Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, a discarded member from the Aligarh Muslim University were brought in for the job. In a public meeting, Qadir delivered a fiery speech inciting Muslims against Singh. He incited communal violence by saying that the holy Quran forbade Muslims to subject themselves to an infidel Hindu ruler.
Qadir was arrested on the charge of terrorism and inciting people against Singh. His trial disrupted. A decision to hold his trial in the jail premises was taken. On July 13, 1931, thousands of Kashmiris flocked to Srinagar’s Central Jail to witness the trial of Qadir. As the time for prayer approached, one Kashmiri stood up to offer prayers. The Dogra Governor Ray Zada Tartilok Chand ordered the soldiers to open fire on him. After he was killed, another Kashmiri stood up to continue the prayer. He too was killed. This continued. A total of 22 Kashmiris were killed delivering the adhan.
Chanting slogans, the dead bodies of the 22 Kashmiris were paraded through the streets of Srinagar. Week-Long mourning was observed in the state. The protest was intensified, Hindus were killed, and shops were looted. Hindus retaliated, leading to the outbreak of riots between Hindus and Muslims.
Kashmir Martyrs’ Day
Every year, July 13 is observed as Kashmir Martyrs’ Day by Kashmiris all over the world. The day is marked to pay tribute to 22 Kashmiri Muslims killed on July 13, 1931.