Hari Singh’s Birthday To Be Holiday? 

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SRINAGAR — A week after ‘Martyrs Day’ which commemorates massacre of 22 unarmed civilians by the forces of autocratic ruler Maharaja Hari Singh in 1931, the Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) has passed a resolution to declare the birth anniversary of the Dogra monarch on September 23 as State holiday.

BJP corporator Narotam Sharma had moved the resolution on Thursday and it was passed without any opposition from the Congress or independent candidates in the general house meeting, where out of 75 corporators BJP has 43 members.

“The sentiments of people of Jammu are associated with Maharaja Hari Singh and the Governor must declare (a State) holiday on his birth anniversary,” Sharma was quoting as saying by a National daily—The Hindu.

The resolution has been sent to Governor Satya Pal Malik for his consent.

Several right-wing parties in the past made similar demands but was rejected by the previous regimes in the State.

The JMC’s move comes days after the State observed a holiday and paid tributes to 22 martyrs who fell to the bullets in Srinagar on July 13, 1931 to the Maharaja’s forces.

Congress leader Vikramaditya Singh was first to stoke a controversy by calling the martyrs as “rapists, criminals and looters.”

He tweeted that “plunder, loot and rape by criminals and jail breakers in Srinagar city was put to an end in 1931”. “It is a blot on J&K that this is glorified as State Martyrs Day,” he added.

These remarks attracted strong reactions from the Congress as well as the regional parties, including National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Congress leader Saifuddin Soz termed it “obnoxious” and, in a letter Rahul Gandhi, demanded Mr. Singh’s explusion.

NC spokesperson said the day marked “an open revolt against a despotic, pitiless and tyrant autocratic government”.

 “Such brutish assertions against the martyrs who laid their lives for the dignity and self-respect shows the disdain the scions of erstwhile autocrats hold for the cherished values of democracy,” he said.

He said the worst feature of the Dogra rule was its communal outlook. “It discriminated Muslims on the basis of their religion and also interfered in their religious affairs. The coming generations will continue to draw inspiration from the martyrs of 1931,” said the spokesperson.

Chief Judicial Magistrate Kishtwar Sudhir Khajuria has already ordered SHO Kishtwar to investigate whether tweet by Congress leader and grandson of last Maharaja makes out to be a cognizable offence.

The court ordered the preliminary inquiry following a complaint filed by district president of People’s Conference Sajjad Ahmed Najjar, seeking action against Singh for his “derogatory remarks” against martyrs of July 13, 1931.

According to Najjar, Singh had, in his July 13 tweet, written: “Martyrs Day should be honoured for those thousands of hero’s who have sacrificed their lives for our nation”.

 


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