Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir police and central paramilitary forces enforced curfew in Srinagar areas and some other towns of the restive Valley to hold back pro-freedom rallies planned by Muslim separatists at 'Mazar-e-Shohda' or martyrs' cemetery in Srinagar to mark the 86th anniversary of slaying of 22 local Muslims by autocratic Dogra Maharaja's army.
Curfew was clamped in southern Shopian town as well, whereas curfew or curfew-like restrictions brought life to a standstill in neighbouring Anantnag, Kulgam and Pulwama districts.
Elsewhere, marketplaces remained shut and only skeletal transport services were available as vast majority of the people obeyed a call for shutdown issued by an alliance of separatist parties and endorsed by various political, social and trade organisations.
The authorities, “as a precautionary measure”, suspended rail and mobile internet services across Kashmir. While it was an official holiday at government offices and banks, educational institutions remained shut on account of summer vacations. The security forces had been put on high alert all over the Valley following the recent attack on a bus carrying Amarnath pilgrims, official sources said.
Almost all senior separatist leaders and prominent activists were earlier placed under house arrest or detained. Later, chief Muslim cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was arrested as he began marching towards Mazar-e-Shohda from his residence in Srinagar's Nigeen area.
Amid tight security, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, senior Cabinet members, senior party functionaries, government and police officials, including, several other mainstream leaders including Opposition National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah offered floral tributes to the martyrs of 1931 and said fateha prayers at Mazar-e-Shohda’ in Srinagar's Khawaja Bazaar. A contingent of Jammu and Kashmir police in ceremonial dress presented ‘guard of honour’.
Dressed in green abaya (clock) and covering her head with a printed scarf, Mufti said that martyrs of 1931 sacrificed their lives for the establishment of a “democratic, prosperous and happy” Jammu and Kashmir and urged the people to fight those spreading fear.
However, PDP’s partner in government, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stayed away from the official functions.
July 13 is observed as ‘Martyrs’ Day’ on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) at official and unofficial levels as 22 local Muslims were on this day in 1931 killed by the troops of autocratic Dogra Maharaja Hari Singh outside Srinagar Central Jail where an in-camera trial of famed Abdul Qadeer Khan, a non-local chef with a British traveller, was being held.
Khan had been charged with sedition and instigating people for violence after he made fiery speeches against the Maharaja’s “oppressive” rule at a Friday congregation and while pointing towards his Palace asked people to raze it “brick by brick.” July 13 is also a public holiday on both sides of the LoC.
But the BJP considers the Dogra rule in undivided Jammu and Kashmir as a ‘golden period’ and also maintains that Maharaja Hari Singh was a genuine ruler of the state....