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
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.