When Haathi Khan residents shed blood for 1931 Martyrs memorial
ARIF SHAFI WANI
Srinagar, July 13: It required countless sacrifices for making a memorial on the spot where 21 valiant Kashmiris fell to bullets of tyrrant Dogra soldiers at Haathi Khan locality outside the Central Jail here.
Understanding the historical significance of the spot, people of Haathi Khan for decades left no stone unturned to built the Martyrs memorial. But the defiant uthorities with full force suppressed their noble effort. Notably, at the same time, paying of floral tributes to 1931 martyrs by the rulers at Mazar-e-Shahuda acted a salt to their wounds.
The indifferent attitude of the authorities however did not deter the resolve of Haathi Khan inhabitants. They formed a coordination committee to spearhead their noble cause.
“The 1931 martyrs sacrificed their lives for respect and identity of Kashmirs. They rose against the tyranny. We wanted to construct the memorial to acknowledge their sacrifices and let our future generations know about the resolve of Kashmiris,” Noor Muhammad Khan a local told Greater Kashmir.
The Haathi Khan residents used various forums and carried on a peaceful agitation to fight for their demand. Finally, their efforts yielded results when the then Chief minister, Mufti Muhammad Syed issued orders for construction of the memorial.
For the purpose, the Government transferred seven kanals of land to the Floriculture department.
A Detailed Project Report (DRP) was also prepared for construction of the park at a cost of Rs 69 lakhs by the Gardens, Parks and Floriculture Department.
On March 19, 2006, the memorial’s construction started, however the Central Jail authorities stopped the work saying it had not received formal orders from the Government.
“When we protested, the jail authorities severely hrashed us and arrested many members of the Coordination Committee. The jail authorities wanted to build quarters for their families at the spot. We took it as an insult to the Martyrs and continued our agitation,”
Khan said. Protests against the jail authorities continued for days together.
To cool the tempers, then Divisional Commissioner had sought even sought intervention of Chief Secretary in the matter and recommended shifting of the Central jail.
“The park should be constructed at the spot as it has historic importance,” the Divisional Commissioner had maintained.
However, the Haathi Khan residents received a shot in the arm in 2007 when the Chairman of Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq decided to lay foundation of Minar-e-Shahuda at the spot. However, police foiled the plan by detaining dozens of Hurriyat activists who were making preparations for laying of foundation stone. “After failing to quell the demand for construction of the memorial, the government had to bow. The memorial part was finally constructed,” Khan said.
On entrance of the park, a hoarding with names of the 1931 martyrs stands as an attraction for the people.
However, the locals regret that the successive regimes and pro-freedom leaders failed to keep their promise of building Minar-e-Shahuda in the park. “Authorities should have no problem to allow the Minar-e-Shahuda’s construction as successive regimes have been officially recognizing the sacrifices of 1931 Martyrs,” they said.
The park has become a source of convenience for the family members and relatives who come to visit their loved serving imprisonment in the Central Jail. “The ambience in the park relieves me of my problems. I feel a soothing experience here. The park also reminds me of sacrifices rendered by Kashmiris. It gives me courage to carry on with my life,” said Khadija Begum whose relatives are serving imprisonment incidentally for “raising voice against atrocities by police and troopers.”
Lastupdate on : Tue, 13 Jul 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 13 Jul 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 14 Jul 2010 00:00:00 IST
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