Kashmir Martyrs’ Day: What did happen outside Srinagar Jail on 13 July 1931?

By Mathias Samuel

The events that took place outside Court of the Sessions Judge, Srinagar on July 13, 1931, essentially became Mother of Resistance for Movement for Kashmiris which is still going on despite 89 years have passed and over two million Kashmiris have laid their lives for the freedom struggle.

There are several eyewitnesses accounts, local stories, and news reports about what actually happened on the unfortunate but historic day in Srinagar. The reliable documentation of July 13, 1931, is done by two writers in their authentic books.

The “Inside Kashmir” written by Prem Nath Bazaz and published by Kashmir Publishing Company in 1941 and “Tarikh-i-Hurriyat” written by Rashid Taseer and published by Kapur Brothers Lal Chowk Srinagar narrate events of the day.

In this article, citing events are available from the above mentioned authentic books.

Writers suggest that Sikhs and Hindus had been teasing Muslims and had been defying them their rights of religious freedom and Muslims of Srinagar decided to raise the issue interference in their religious observations and submitted a complaint in the court of “Additional District Magistrate” under section 296 Ranbir Penal Code against the Hindus for disturbing a religious assembly. The complaint was dismissed because the Hindu Magistrate held that Khutba (Religious sermon) was not a part of the prayers.

Another incident took place on June 4, 1931, in the Central Jail Jammu. According to daily “Inquilab” dated 1 July 1931, a Muslim Police Constable Fazal Dad Khan from Mirpur, was sitting on a cot when a Head Warder, Balak Ram, reprimanded him for being late on duty. In the meantime, Labhu Ram, a Sub-Inspector, threw away Khan’s 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 and reported the incident.

Another incident took place in Srinagar on June 20, 1931, when leaves of the Quran were found in a public latrine. This incident worked as fuel on the fire and Muslim gatherings started taking place in the city for raising the voice against the purge of the religious rights of Muslims.

A man Abdul Qadeer who was an employee of a British Army officer from Yorkshire Regiment posted became center-point of the religious right campaign when he addressed a public meeting at Kanqah-i-Maula.

In his speech Abdul Qadeer said:

The time has now come when we should not meet force by great force to put an end to the tyrannies and brutalities to which you are subjected, nor will they solve the issue of disrespect to Holy Quran to your satisfaction. You must rely upon your own strength and wage a relentless war against oppression. We have no machine guns. But we have plenty of stones and brickbats”.

His speech was recorded by the CID and when he returned to Naseem Bagh that night, he was followed and arrested on June 24 from the house-boat of his employer and charged under section 124-A (treason) and 153 of the Ranbir Penal Code.

His trial started on July 4, 1931, in the Court of the Sessions Judge which was established inside Central Jail of Srinagar.

On July 13, 1931 Court Hearing, thousands of Muslims assembled outside the Central Jail. After the entry of the session Judge, they demanded permission to enter the compound. According to an estimate, four to five thousand people went witness the trial. Before the session began, a group of about two hundred people entered the compound and remained in peace outside the Jail Guard Lines.

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. As soon as they left their vehicles, people shouted slogans, “Allah-o-Akbar- Islam Zindabad” and “Abdul Qadeer Zindabad”. The police charged gathering with batons and the people fought the police back with stones and brickbats, followed by face-to-face fighting between the people and the police. Ghulam Mohammad Halwai, a retired policeman 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.

To crush the crowd, the police started firing and continued for fifteen minutes. According to available documents, the then Governor Turlok Chand ordered the armed police to open fire. According to the evidence officially placed before the Dalal Inquiry Commission, 180 rounds were fired. Seventeen Muslims were killed (martyred) on the spot and forty received serious injuries, five of whom died later.

 

Martyrs of 13 July 1931

  1. Khaliq Shora
  2. Akbar Dar
  3. Ghulam Ahmad Rather
  4. Usman Misgar
  5. Ghulam Ahmad Bhat
  6. Ghulam M Halwai
  7. Ghulam Nabi Kalwal
  8. Ghulam Ahmad Naqash
  9. Ghulam Rasool Durra
  10. Ameer-ud-Din Makayi
  11. Subhan Makayi
  12. Ghulam Qadir Khan
  13. Ramzan Chola
  14. Ghulam Mohammad Sofi
  15. Naseer-ud-Din
  16. Ameer-ud-Din Jandgaru
  17. Mohammad Subhan Khan
  18. Mohammad Sultan Khan
  19. Abdul Salam
  20. Ghulam Mohammad Teli
  21. Fakeer Ali
  22. Ghulam Ahmad Dar
  23. Mughli
  24. Abdullah Ahanger