SRINAGAR: Nearly five months after the Centre angered Kashmiris by scrapping Article 370, the Jammu and Kashmir government seemed to add salt to their injuries when it dropped Sheikh Abdullah’s birth anniversary on December 5 and Martyrs’ Day on July 13 from the list of public holidays for 2020 while adding October 26, the day J&K acceded to the Union of India in 1947, as a state holiday.
Martyrs’ Day is observed every year to commemorate the 23 persons killed in firing by troops of Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh in 1931 during protests against his rule. According to historians, the day has been observed since 1948 and a strike is observed in the Kashmir Valley. They said National Conference founder Abdullah’s birth anniversary on December 5 has been observed as a public holiday since 1982. The Sheikh had died on September 8 that year.
The decision was strongly condemned by political parties, except the Bharatiya Janata Party. NC spokesman Imran Nabi Dar said this was part of the BJP’s larger design since August 5 when the Centre did away with Article 370.
2020 public holiday list of J&K panned and praised
“The BJP is playing petty politics and launching an all-out assault on J&K’s identity,” he said, adding: “By doing such things, they can’t change history.” Referring to Martyrs’ Day, he said those killed were fighting oppression. “Disregarding the contribution of the martyrs can only be done by those with the BJP’s mindset,” Dar said.
But Maharaja Hari Singh’s grandson and senior Congress leader Vikramaditya Singh was happy with the decision. “From next year, 26th October, the day my grandfather Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession with India, will be observed as a state holiday. This is a mark of respect for the sacrifices of the J&K state forces and the Indian Army,” he tweeted.
Congress spokesman Ravindra Sharma questioned the need to amend the list of holidays, calling it “vindictive and divisive”. He said there was a demand in Jammu to declare J&K’s last Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh’s birth anniversary on September 25 as a public holiday but that was rejected.
Sharma said the BJP should not ignore the contribution of leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah. “Abdullah had facilitated J&K’s accession with India and had also supported Indian forces in fighting Pakistan raiders in 1947,” he said. “One can disagree with their ideology but none can disagree with Sheikh Abdullah’s contribution to J&K.”BJP spokesman Priya Sethi said, “It is a new J&K out from the clutches of Nehruvism and the Abdullahs.