On Martyrs’ Day Restrictions Affect Life in Srinagar

Srinagar, Jul 13 : The authorities imposed restrictions in the old city areas of Srinagar to scuttle a proposed separatist march Wednesday, known as martyrs’ day here. Hurriyat leaders like Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq were placed under house arrest.

This day in 1931, hundreds of people had stormed the local central jail where the autocratic Dogra administration was holding the trial of a Pathan butler, Abdul Qadeer. Guards at the central jail had opened fire, killing 25 of the protestors who were carried in a procession by people and buried at the Khawaja Bazaar graveyard, which thus came to be known as the martyrs’ graveyard.

To commemorate the day, July 13 is observed as a public holiday in Jammu and Kashmir.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was among the first to offer floral tributes at the graves of martyrs Wednesday morning.

But restrictions were imposed in five police station areas of the old city – Khanyar, Nowhatta, Rainawari, M.R. Gunj and Safa Kadal – to maintain law and order, police said here.

Shops, markets, businesses and traffic remained suspended in Srinagar city due to the separatist shutdown, but marginal private and public transport plied on the uptown city roads. Scores of private and public vehicles carrying pilgrims to north Kashmir’s Baltal base camp moved normally.

Mirwaiz Umer had appealed to people to march towards the Khawaja Bazaar martyrs’ graveyard in the city Wednesday. But he and Geelani were placed under house arrest by police to prevent their participation in the proposed separatist march.

Other separatist leaders, including Shabir Shah and Muhammad Nayeem Khan, were also placed under house arrest in Srinagar city.

Senior leaders, including those of the Congress and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), visited the martyrs’ graveyard to pay tribute.

On this day, many remember of the story of butler Abdul Qadeer, who had made speeches against the autocratic rule in Kashmir and exhorted the locals to rise in revolt against the Dogra Maharaja.

Qadeer was the Pathan butler of the British Resident in Srinagar and after his release under tremendous public pressure in 1931 nothing was heard about him.

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