The struggle begun in 1585; got new lease of life in 1931

The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the martyr dies and his rule begin: Soren Kierkegaard

The history of rebellion in Jammu and Kashmir is not new and dates back to 1585 when the last Independent Kashmir ruler Yusuf Shah Chak was invited by the Mughal Emperor Akbar to Delhi. The Mughals arrested him and forced him to live a life of solitary confinement at a remote village in Bihar (India), where he ate his heart away in sole distress and breathed his last. 

Akbar after facing two times defeat in the battle field, cheated the King of Kashmir and killed this pious sultan of Kashmir mercilessly, took over the charge of Kashmir and extended his kingdom to the foothills of Himalayas. In 1886 A.D Kashmir lost its independence.  

It is unfortunate that many a times when the natives (Kashmiris) falling foul with their rulers invited the neighbouring Kings to sit on the throne of Kashmir. This character of Kashmiri people has caused a great damage to Kashmiri. Since 1586 people of Kashmir, Muslims and Non-Muslims launched movement of Quit Kashmir under different names. Mughals ruled Kashmir from 1586-1753 A.D. After Mughals the Afghans ruled Kashmir upto 1819 and then Sikhs ruled Kashmir from 1819-1846 A.D. With the decline of Mughal Empire in India and the advent of British rule, J&K also came under the rule of British. Before that it was ruled by Sikhs (1819-1846 A.D). When Punjab and other states including J&K was taken by the Brits they gave it to Dogras on lease for a period of 90 years i.e., from 1846-1936 A.D and made Gulab Singh the Maharaja of J&K. Brits in turn charged the sum of rupees 40 lakhs to the Dogras. It should be noted that Gulab Singh did not buy or own J&K but he was dependent on British Government as records suggest (Treaty of Amritsar, March 14, 1946). British Government would declare the next King in Kashmir as that was their policy in the early conquest of India (Doctrine of Lapse). This shows J&K was indirectly under the occupation of British. 

In the year 1925 A.D, Maharaja Hari Singh become the ruler of J&K state and introduced a series of reforms in the field of education, economy and social infrastructure. Kashmiri people specially, Kashmiri Pandits launched a movement known as ‘Kashmir For Kashmiris’. Due to result of this movement, Raja Hari Singh passed a Law on 31 January, 1927 known as ‘STATE SUBJECT LAW’ imposing restrictions on the entry of non-Kashmiris in government services, and on the sale of agricultural land to them. Kashmiri Muslims organised themselves into a group calling it the ‘MUSLIM CONFERENCE’ which functioned from Lahore.  In 1930, Sir Mohammad Iqbal, himself a Kashmiri Muslim, had suggested a thesis of PAN-ISLAM, that is union of Frontier Provinces, Baluchistan, Sindh and Kashmir as Muslim State within a federation.  

In 1931 Modern Kashmiri’s Freedom Movement was born when Dogra police opened fire (on 13th , July 1931) infront of  central jail Rainwari Srinagar and killed 21 people on the spot. The people of Kashmir raised voice  against Maharaja and their slogan was break the lease treaty of Amritsar and leave Kashmir. Maharaja  used force to crush the freedom struggle and killed many innocent Kashmiris. 

The episode of 13th July 1931

On 19th April, 1931 after the Eid prayer (at Jammu) Imam Munshi M.Ishaq  was stoped by Dogra police inspector Bapu Kheem Chand on the direction of DIG Choudhary Ram Chand from delivering the Khutba. This act sparked anger among Muslims  of Jammu  and it spread throughout Jammu and Kashmir. People of Jammu and Kashmir (Muslims) protested against the Dogra rule and demanded an action  against the police officer. The Muslim leaders of Jammu and Kashmir realized the importance of the matter. They started a powerful campaign against Dogra rule.  All the prominent Muslim leaders at that time gathered at Khankahi Maulla (Srinagar). In a short speech Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah emphasized on the unity of leaders  and requested Kashmiri Pandits to participate in the freedom struggle. After the programme was over a young man came infront of the stage and delivered a speech against Dogra government. 

The young man was Abdul Qadeer who was not a resident of Jammu and Kashmir. Abdul Qadeer had met Sheikh Abdullah few times earlier  and was willing to participate in the freedom struggle of the Muslims against Dogra rule but he was not allowed to join. It is important to mention here that earlier Major Ebet and Abdul Qadeer were participating in the programmes organized by the Kashmiri Muslim leaders against the Dogra rule. Abdul Qadeer was arrested and keeping in view the interest of the people in the case, government ordered his trial inside central jail Srinagar. On 12the July 1931 people protested against the shifting of case to central jail. On the next day a large number of people came to central jail and some of them wanted to go inside the jail premises inorder to watch the proceedings of the case. After a long discussion with the jail authorities only few persons were allowed to go inside. Meanwhile after prayer governor Tirlok Chand came to central jail. On seeing public inside he was enraged. Thus he repeated the history of General Dyer and ordered fire on unarmed civilians. On the spot 17 people were killed and 5 seriously injured who later died due to blood loss. When the news of killing of 22 people and a number of wounded in central jail spread, people came out of their homes and marched towards central jail. The martyrs and wounded were taken in procession to Jamia Masjid Srinagar. 

On the way near Malikah cemetery, Dogra police tried to snatch the bodies of the slain civilians. Sheikh Abdullah writes in his book, “When I reached a seriously wounded person he told me before taking the last breath, that I have completed my duty now it is your duty “. Dogra police cordoned off Jamia Masjid and it was decided on the next day with the permission of Nawab Khusroo Jang that the martyrs will be buried at Naqashband Sahib. 

Leaders, including Sheikh Abdullah were arrested. Moulvi Yousuf Shah offered funeral prayers of the martyrs. The official record shows that 150 people died on the day and days after due to these disturbances but actual death toll was more.  

The fight of the people of  Kashmir was not against any individual but against a system at large. As the people of India fought against British rule the same way people of Kashmir fought against Dogra rule. The seeds of ongoing struggle in Kashmir sowed in 1586 following Mughal occupation began sprouting in 1931. 

In this fight there were two camps. In the one camp were the subjugated and wretched peoples of Kashmir and in the other were the rulers and their puppet officials, feudal lords and capitalists. The 13 July 1931, has also importance for making the world around to know the brutalities the Muslims of the Jammu and Kashmir state were suffering at the hands of autocratic rulers. 

Five days after the July 13 massacre and its aftermath the Muslim press of Lahore began reporting it. This sent shock waves not only in Kashmiri community living in  Punjab but entire Muslim population. And  it was the Kashmir Committee that brought plight of Kashmiris in the undivided India under spotlight by launching mass movement at all India level.  There are records about Muslims in many parts of India taking out processions against the Dogra ruler of Kashmir. And it is in fact these protests in different parts of India that made the British to intervene in Kashmir affairs. After that only, the Commissions were appointed to look into the grievances of the Muslims of the state. So even if the event was an accident, it left an indelible imprint on the page of Kashmir. The first phase of this battle was concluded in 1947. 

Dogra-rule came to an end but in the process our country was divided. One part went under occupation of Delhi while the other, though called Azad (free) under Pakistan has none of the features of a free place. During this chaos hundreds of thousands of old and young as well as children were consumed. The blood of those unaccountable children along with the older members of our nation flows into the plains of Jammu and Valley, in the hills of Poonch, Muzzafarabad and Mirpur in the mountains of Kargil and Ladakh. No monuments of these children can be found but these anonymous martyrs are the pride of our nation. To be able to tell all the stories of these young martyred boys and girls of our freedom struggle it requires a massive book. 

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