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First Time Since 1948, No Holiday, Events to Commemorate Martyrs’ Day in India's Jammu and Kashmir

© REUTERS / DANISH ISMAILIndian army trucks move along a highway leading to Ladakh, at Gagangeer in Kashmir's Ganderbal district June 17, 2020
Indian army trucks move along a highway leading to Ladakh, at Gagangeer in Kashmir's Ganderbal district June 17, 2020 - Sputnik International
New Delhi (Sputnik): Last year, the Indian government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and also issued a new list of holidays, from which the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government omitted Martyrs’ Day - celebrated by Kashmiris both in India and Pakistan.

For the first time in India’s independent history, there is deafening silence in Kashmir on 13 July – the date on which the state observed its Martyrs' Day.

Traditionally, mainstream political parties including the Indian National Congress, National Conference, People’s Democratic Party, joined with local groups for public gatherings to honour the 22 persons who laid down their lives fighting for independence from the erstwhile ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh.

The day was declared an official holiday by the first prime minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, and observed by Kashmiris on both sides of the Line of Control.

In August of last year, the Indian government revoked Article 370 of the Indian Constitution granting autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir.

The federal government soon after also issued a new list of holidays, omitting Martyrs' Day and the birthday of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, which is celebrated on 5 December.

While the Kashmir region observed the day to mark the "martydom" of the people killed, the Hindu population in the Jammu region consider it a "Black Day" when the first attack on religious minorities in the region took place.

Recently, a letter calling for shutdown on 13 July, purportedly written by the separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, went viral. However, it was later found to be fake and originated in Pakistan, the Jammu and Kashmir police told the media.

The state police on Sunday arrested rebel leader Ashraf Sahrai and other members of a banned Pakistan-based political party Jamaat-e-Islami, which is an advocate of Kashmir's independence, under the Public Safety Act (PSA), a preventive detention that policy that allows the detention of a person without a trial or charge.

Meanwhile, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken to Twitter to observe the day which he said signifies the "continued struggle against the illegal & barbaric Indian occupation of Jammu & Kashmir".

Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory that is governed in part by both India and Pakistan. The two nuclear countries have fought three wars over the region in 1947, 1965, and 1999.


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