Martyrs’ Day, Sheikh Abdullah’s Birthday Dropped From J&K Holiday List

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A child arranges floral wreaths placed by politicians on the graves of martyrs on Martyrs DayJammu nad. KO File Photo: Abid Bhat

SRINAGAR – The list of public holidays for the calendar year 2020 has been notified by the Jammu and Kashmir administration and among the interesting changes is a holiday on October 26, which marks the Accession Day and none on Sheikh Abdullah’s birth anniversary or Martyrs’ Day on July 13.

As per the notification, issued on Friday night by G.L. Sharma, the Deputy Secretary of the General Administration Department, 24 public holidays will be observed in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir next year.

The prominent changes are that two public holidays — Martyrs’ Day observed on July 13 and the birth anniversary of former Chief Minister Sheikh Abdullah on December 5 — have been dropped from the list of holidays for the year 2020.

Instead, October 26 is in the list of public holidays for the next year as Accession Day.

The day is significant as on October 26, 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession which was accepted and signed a day later by Lord Mountbatten, the then Governor General of India.

Martyrs’ Day is observed in Jammu and Kashmir on July 13 every year in remembrance of people killed in firing by soldiers of Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh on this day in 1931 during protests against his rule.

The changes in public holidays specific to J&K have come at a time when it has become a Union Territory.

However, there were some indications that the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir will be restored soon as the BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav on Friday made statements to this effect.

Speaking in Jammu, Madhav said that there were only 30 to 32 prominent political leaders and less than 100 people overall are under preventive detention now in the Union Territory.

He said they too would be released “in a phased manner” to pave a way “for the restoration of full political activity” in the Union Territory as per the BJP and Centre’s commitment to it.

“The BJP is in favour of granting statehood to Jammu and Kashmir as early as conditions permit.”

Dropping Of Sheikh’s Birthday As Holiday Criticised

The National Conference (NC) and the Congress party on Saturday criticised the dropping of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s birth anniversary as a state holiday in Jammu and Kashmir.

Senior NC leader and Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s son, Mustafa Kamal said that the “dropping of Sheikh’s birth anniversary as a state holiday reflects the hatred against Sheikh and his politics by the ruling dispensation in Delhi”.

“Facts cannot be denied and history cannot be forgotten,” Kamal said, adding: “Sheikh was a towering personality who helped to empower Kashmiris.”

“This reflects a communal agenda that is followed and shows that national interest is not given any importance. Clearly, democracy is under a threat.”

He said that the NC leadership will discuss the matter and chalk out a future course of action.

Congress state president Ghulam Ahmed Mir has also criticised the omission of a holiday on Sheikh’s birth anniversary. He said that Sheikh played an instrumental role in the accession of the state to the union of India.

“This just shows that the ruling party is in any way not giving any sort of respect to the contributions of Sheikh,” Mir said.

“His contribution should be looked above party lines.”

Meanwhile, Vikramaditya Singh, the grandson of Maharaja Hari Singh and also a member of the Congress party, congratulated the people on Accession Day being marked as a state holiday.

He tweeted: “Congratulations to the people of J&K! From next year, 26th October, the day my grandfather, Maharaja Hari Singh, signed the instrument of accession to India will be observed as a state holiday. This is a mark of respect for sacrifices of J&K state forces and the Indian Army.”

The Jammu and Kashmir government on Friday issued a list of holidays for the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir during the calendar year 2020 in which Accession Day on October 26 is marked as a holiday while December 5 which was a holiday in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir on the birth anniversary of Sheikh Abdullah has been struck off.

Also, Martyrs Day (on July 13) which was a holiday previously has also been struck off. Martyrs Day signifies the rebellion in Kashmir against the Dogra rulers. Scores of Kashmiris died in firing by the Maharaja’s troops on July 13, 1931.

Attempt To Distort History: Tarigami

Alleging that J&K administration’s decision to abolish Martyrs day holiday was an ‘attempt to distort the history’, senior CPI (M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami on Saturday said that the struggle of July 13, 1931 martyrs was against the tyrannical regime in Jammu and Kashmir.

In a statement issued to press from here, Tarigami, who is a former MLA, said the struggle of 1931 martyrs was aimed for the better future of the whole of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. “It was a heroic struggle of the people for the whole of population, irrespective of caste, color, creed and religion,” he said.

He said the 1931 movement reflected the aspirations of entire population of J&K as the tyrannical regime was equally repressive for people of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh. “It was not the struggle of one community or one region. Today’s decision has virtually been taken to further divide the ranks of people,” he said.

Tarigami said that by such decisions, J&K administration has insulted people of Jammu and Kashmir. “The administration which is already alienated from people is further increasing its alienation.

The BJP government at the Center is trying to divide the people of Jammu and Kashmir further by such divisive agenda which we are sure people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh will not allow them to fulfil. Already they have done enough damage to the secular fabric of the country by the decisions like Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA),” he alleged.

Meanwhile, questioning the decision of the administration to abolish the holiday on National Conference founder late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s birthday on December 5, he said Sheikh was a towering personality and his historic contribution in the freedom struggle and empowerment of people of J&K can’t be ignored.

“Whatever empowerment of people you see today came through decision like Land-to-Tiller and Education for all which are the outcome of that movement. To downgrade a leader like Mr Sheikh is virtually playing a prank with the history. I am sure people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh will in one voice resist such divisive policies of the BJP,” he said.

“In the past also they have always defeated those forces who wanted to divide them in the name of region and religion,” he added.

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