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BJP snubs Valley tradition,skips Martyrs Day ceremony
14 July 2015
Srinagar,14/July/2015 (ITNN)>>>> The BJP on Monday skipped the Valley s Martyrs Day ceremony, making it perhaps the first time that a ruling party had boycotted an official event to honour 22 Kashmiris who were shot dead exactly 84 years ago. July 13 is observed as Martyrs Day in Kashmir by the state government as well as separatists in memory of the unarmed 22 who died while protesting against the rule of the Dogra king Maharaja Hari Singh in 1931. It is also observed as a gazetted holiday in the state. A BJP spokesperson justified the party's decision, saying such events,especially one to mark something that had a ring of secessionism to it,militate against our central ideology.

The BJP's decision, which kicked up a political storm, came as a major embarrassment for ally Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which publicly denounced its junior partner. BJP ministers skipped the official event at the martyrs' graveyard in Srinagar's old city as Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, other PDP ministers, Opposition leaders including Omar Abdullah and Congress state unit president Ghulam Ahmad Mir, and top police officials and bureaucrats paid floral tributes to the martyrs.

The authorities had imposed curfew-like restrictions in the old city to prevent a separatist rally to the venue,located in a sensitive area where pro-aazaadi sentiment runs high. BJP leader Ravinder Raina justified the decision to skip the event,saying the party doesn't consider those killed in 1931 as martyrs. July 13 was a black day in Kashmir's history when some goons revolted against the rule of Maharaja Hari Singh and vandalised the property of the minorities. We observe it as a black day and not as Martyrs Day,Raina said.

We have boycotted the function and will continue to do so in the future and we want the government to revoke the official holiday. BJP MP R.K. Singh even criticised the chief minister for visiting the graveyard. My opinion is that J&K CM should not have gone to the martyr s day function of separatists,it is wrong,he tweeted. Sources said the BJP and the RSS may have learnt to live with the reality that abrogation of Article 370, which gives Kashmir special status under the Indian Constitution,would have to be put on the backburner till the party also gets a majority in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly.

But an event like Martyrs Day has strong emotional resonance,not just in the Hindu-majority Jammu region but also across the country because of its association with the demand for secessionism. Had the party attended the event, the spokesperson said, it would have triggered a revolt on the ground all over India. The controversy handed former chief minister Omar an opportunity to hit out at both the PDP and the BJP. Someone please tell the Hon MP that it's an official state function. the National Conference leader tweeted in response to Singh's tweet.

J&K state Ministers boycott an official state function but the silent Mufti couldn t care less as long as his throne remains in tact. PDP chief spokesperson Mehboob Beg took strong exception to the BJP s absence. To attend the official function to pay respects to the martyrs was an obligation that the (BJP) ministers ought to have fulfilled and any deviation from such a precedent was inappropriate,he said. It should be amply clear that the martyrs belonged to the state and not to any particular religion,region,caste or creed and their sacrifices must not be forgotten or belittled.

The Mufti presided over the official event at the graveyard but avoided talking about the controversy. Instead,the chief minister hailed Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif for a bilateral meet in Russia and said sustained and meaningful dialogue between India and Pakistan was the only way to achieve peace. The PDP leader also defended the special status that Jammu and Kashmir enjoys under the Indian Constitution.