For the third year in a row, the BJP leaders in Jammu and Kashmir abstained from an official function organised on Thursday, 13 July to pay tributes to the martyrs of 1931, who had died in a shoot-out during Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh’s reign. Thirteenth July is an official holiday in the state.

The National Conference and the Congress condemned the BJP, accusing it of insulting the martyrs of Jammu and Kashmir. NC patron and former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah said the BJP was trying to insult the martyrs of Jammu and Kashmir for the sake of its “communal politics”. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti skirted questions raised by the media, asking her to explain the non-participation of her ally, Bharatiya Janata Party in the official function.

The BJP defended itself in a statement saying 13 July 1931 was the most controversial day in the history of J&K as it was on this day that communal politics took roots in Kashmir. BJP spokesperson Varinder Gupta said that this day hurts the sentiment of the majority of people and has divided Kashmiri society on communal lines.

BJP spokesperson Varinder Gupta said that this day has divided the Kashmiri society on communal lines.

There is an alternative view among some that those killed on the fateful day were in fact “rioters”. On 13 July, the hearing on the arrest of one Abdul Qadir, a rabble rouser from Peshawar who also worked for the British as an undercover agent to destabilise the situation in the valley, was to take place in the jail premises. He had been arrested for fanning communal tension. But a mob stormed the jail, pelted stones on police officers and tried to burn down the premises. They also tried to liberate prisoners who were being taken out of the jail. When the police tried to disperse the mob they attacked a place called Mahraj Ganj and raided and looted shops belonging to the Hindus. The same kind of loot followed in Safakadal, Ganji, Khud and Nawakadal, with Hindu merchants losing lakhs of rupees worth of merchandise. It was these rioters who had been killed by the police to restore law and order.

While the separatist leaders including Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq were not allowed to come to the martyrs’ graveyard in Srinagar to pay their tributes, independent MLA Engineer Abdul Rasheed took out a “plebiscite march” from the downtown locality of Khanayar up to martyrs graveyard at Khawaja Bazar, Srinagar. He said the PDP, National Conference and the Congress have no right to visit this graveyard.

He lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party for insulting the sacrifices of the Kashmiris, Rasheed said that Mehbooba Mufti should resign if she has any dignity left.

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