Flashback: 13 July 1931, a tragic day in Kashmir History
Srinagar: It was the same day–July 13 and the year was 1931, thousands of Kashmiris had flocked to Central Jail, Srinagar to witness the trial of Abdul Qadeer. As the time for obligatory prayer approached, one Kashmiri stood up to deliver Adhaan. The Dogra Governor Ray Zada Tartilok Chand ordered his soldiers to fire on the young man calling out the Adhaan. When he was killed another Kashmiri stood up to continue the adhaan from the verse where the Adhaan had been broken. He too was killed. A total of 22 Kashmiris were killed trying to complete delivering the Adhaan.
The people carried the dead and paraded through the streets of Srinagar, chanting slogans against the Dogra brutalities. The incident shook the whole state and weeklong mourning was observed. Traffic between Srinagar and Rawalpindi and between Srinagar and Jammu was halted between July 13 and July 26, 1931
The uprising spread and three British companies, numbering about 500 soldiers were sent to support Hari Singh and restore law and order. The incident also led to the young Sheikh Abdullah coming into prominence, with his rivalry with the Maharaja continuing until 1947.
The Kashmir Martyrs’ Day Youm-e-Shuhada-e-Kashmir is observed on July 13 every year not only on both sides of the Line of Control but also all over the world by the Kashmiris to pay homage to 22 Kashmiris who were martyred in 1931 to free Kashmir from the brutalities of despotic Dogra rulers.
The tragic day is the milestone in the history of Kashmiri struggle against foreign occupation. It was revolt against atrocities on July 13, 1931 when people rose against the autocratic Dogra rule and protested against the prosecution of sympathizer of Kashmir struggle, Abdul Qadeer Khan Ghazi. Few important incidents which took place at the time in quick succession provided the spark needed to kindle the flames of revolt. These five causes were:
The incident that took place on 4 June in the Central Jail Jammu; according to daily “Inquilab” dated 1/7/1931, one Fazal Dad Khan, a police constable from Mirpur, was sitting on a cot when a Head Warder, Balak Ram, reprimanded him for being late on duty. In the meantime came one Labhu Ram Sub-Inspector who threw away his bedding in a fit of recklessness. It contained a copy of Panjsurah (five chapters from the Quran). Fazal Dad approached the Young Men’s Muslim Association.
Another incident took place in Srinagar on 20 June 1931 when leaves of the Quran were found in a public latrine. No Muslim could ever dare do that. Moulvi Muhammad Yousuf Shah at a public meeting held at Hazratbal said: “If we are arrested there is nothing for you to fear. If ten of us are arrested, the other ten must be prepared to take our places”. In his work: “Inside Kashmir” (1941), Prem Nath Bazaz writes: “The driving force behind the mass agitation till the 13th July was the discontent among the rank and file of the Muslims. The attack on the jail was in no way directed against the Hindus, and those who laid down their lives at the jail gate did so fighting against an unsympathetic government… It was a fight of the tyrannized against their tyrants, of the oppressed against the oppressors”.
Immediate Cause was that of Abdul Qadeer, an employee of an English army officer, Major Butt of the Yorkshire Regiment then posted at Peshawar, hailed from Swat (Many versions about his origin). He had come to Srinagar with his employer who was a casual visitor on leave from the army wanting to spend the hot summer in the cool climate of Kashmir. He was staying in a house boat in Naseem Bagh. Abdul Qadeer had been attending the meetings and at Kanqah-i-Maula he was unable to suppress his feeling which resulted in his impromptu address to the crowd. His speech was recorded by the CID and when he returned to Naseem Bagh in the dead of night, he was followed by the Gestapo and arrested on 25 June from the house-boat of his employer and charged under section 124-A (treason) and 153 of the Ranbir Panel Code. Rashid Taseer in his “Tarikh-i-Hurriyat” (page no 96).
You must rely up on your own strength and wage a relentless war against oppression “pointing his finger towards the palace, he thundered: raze it to the ground”. He said, “We have no machine guns. But we have plenty of stones and brickbats”. When Muslims learnt of his arrest, there was wide resentment across Kashmir. The matter being sentimental the people became acutely touchy. For his “seditious” speech Abdul Qadeer was arrested on the 25th of June, 1931 under section 124-A and 153 of Ranbir Penal Code. His trial started on the 4th of July in the Court of the Sessions Judge, Srinagar. During the four hearings on the 4th, 6th, 7th and 9th, a large number of Muslims would assemble in the compound of the Court to witness this trial. On 13th July 1931, while Abdul Qadir was being tried in Central Jail. Finally, Khan’s trial was started in Srinagar Jail premises.
In order to provide protection to the Magistrate, all extra preparation had been made. The Deputy Inspector of Police came to the site of the trial with one Inspector, 2 Sub Inspectors, 5 Head Constables and 44 Policemen. Out of this force 22 policemen were armed with rifles and the rest with hand clubs, while the Inspectors had revolvers. Besides the above, the Jail forces consisted of 119 policemen armed with dandas and 19 policemen with rifles. The thousands of Muslims assembled outside the Central Jail. After the entry of the session Judge, they demanded permission to enter the compound. According an estimate, four to five thousand people had gone to witness the trial.
But before the hearing of the case started, a group of about two hundred people had entered the compound and remained in peace outside the Jail Guard Lines. By 12:45, the Muezzin gave call to prayer and the people started the Zuhar prayer. As this stage, at 1:00 pm. Muslims began lining up for their noon prayers. A little later the District Magistrate, the City Munsiff, the Superintendent of Police and the Assistant Superintendent of Police arrived in cars. No sooner did they come out of their vehicles than the people shouted the slogans, ‘Allah-o-Akbar- Islam Zindabad’ and ‘Abdul Qadeer Zindabad”.
The infuriated people fought the police back with stones and brickbats. This was immediately followed by face-to-face fight between the people and the police. In this fight one, Ghulam Mohammad Halwai, a retired police man bounced upon a police sergeant, Ghulam Qadir Khan snatching the gun from him. Before he could handle the gun, a police Head Constable shot him dead. In order to quell the crowd, the police started firing which continued for fifteen minutes.
The situation became extremely grave and obviously it was the natural result of the Governors reckless order. Governor Turlok Chand lost his nervous and ordered the armed police to open fire. According to the evidence, officially placed before the Dalal Inquiry Commission, one hundred and eighty rounds were fired. Seventeen Muslims were killed on the spot and forty received serious injuries. Five of whom died later in the Jamia Masjid. The Hindu, Daily Tribune, dated 28 July 1931, admitted the loss of 21 Muslims in the firing the scene was very grim. It is recorded by Chaudhri Ghulam Abbas Khan in his autobiography that ‘the sky became suddenly overcast with dark frightening clouds and the city witnessed an unusual dust storm, as soon as the procession reached Jamia Masjid, and the government clamped martial law and handed over the city to the army’.
It was here that one of the martyrs who had reportedly told Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. “I have done my duty and now you proceed ahead!” Another martyr, Ghulam Nabi Kalwal enquired from Mirwaiz Mohammad Yousuf Shah as to whether he was dying as a martyr and on being assured by him, that anyone who died in the firing or as a result of it was certainly a martyr in the truest sense of the tear, he immediately closed his eyes and reciting the Kalima breathed his last.
On the 3rd day, they were buried in the compound of Kanqah-i-Maula. The place has since come to be known as Mazar-i-Shuhada.
Martyrs of 13 July 1931 are as follows: Khaliq Shora, Akbar Dar, Ghulam Ahmad Rather, Usman Misgar, Ghulam Ahmad Bhat, Ghulam M Halwai, Ghulam Nabi Kalwal, Ghulam Ahmad Naqash, Ghulam Rasool Durra, Ameer-ud-Din Makayi, Subhan Makayi, Ghulam Qadir Khan, Ramzan Chola, Ghulam Mohammad Sofi, Naseer-ud-Din, Ameer-ud-Din Jandgaru, Mohammad Subhan Khan, Mohammad Sultan Khan, Abdul Salam, Ghulam Mohammad Teli, Fakeer Ali, Ghulam Ahmad Dar, Mughli and Abdullah Ahanger.