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Peace Watch » Editor's Take, Kashmir-Talk » 14 July ‘International “Dead Eyes Day”- A Call To UN

14 July ‘International “Dead Eyes Day”- A Call To UN




‘International “Dead Eyes” Day’

Z.G. Muhammad


Sitting on my desk on Saturday to write my weekly column, instantly I remembered it was 25 March. From 2008 the day is observed as the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.   A memorial named as the Ark of Return has been erected at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to honor the victims of slavery permanently. Such memorials, perpetuating the memories of the gruesome sufferings of the nations are inspirational in as much as telling stories about people who   ‘valiantly fought for the soul of their nations’.

The Day of the Remembrance of the Victims of the Slavery made me remember the ‘long night of slavery’ of this small nation nestled in the bosom of mighty Himalayas. That has fought many heroic battles for the past over two hundred years for unshackling itself from the bondage and servitude and left many important inspiring milestones that need to be remembered with solemnity and observed as the days of rededication to the cherished ideas. True, for past eighty-five years the martyrs day in memory of the men and women who laid their lives in 1931 is commemorated with all sombreness. Moreover, for the past over sixty-five years it is observed as a state holiday. Nonetheless, a  memorial in memory of these unarmed people martyred by the army of the Maharaja is yet to erected outside the Central Jail- the place where they were waylaid.

The pages of our contemporary history are etched with the names of many icons in our long resistance movement that need to be remembered and passed on to the posterity.  Equally, there are lots of important dates that stand as a testimony of the nerve and verve, resolve and resoluteness of our immediate ancestors in fighting against the discrimination, the domination and the brutality of the then powers that be. For perpetuating the narrative of valor and determination passing it on to the generation next these dates need to be religiously observed. It is a harsh reality, the textbooks taught in our schools, have been denuded of all Kashmir related content- not only history even the geography of the land has been removed from school syllabi.

The story of the Kashmiris routing Gulab Singh’s soldiers at Maisuma on their entry into Srinagar and its ripple effects spreading as far as Ramban, Bhadarwah, Bimber- resulting in the defeat of soldiers of Gulab Singh has hardly found its way into the popularly Kashmir narrative. Minus, a few scholars of the contemporary Kashmir history who out of expediency chose to keep such stories close to their chests,  the common Kashmiri rarely was told even by the leaders that but for the British intervention the “Amritsar Sale-Deed” would never have been executed. These initial battles thwarting the execution of the obnoxious deed”  also threw up many icons of resistance. That remain buried in the pages of history and it is time for our contemporary historians to rediscover and bring these symbols of the resistance into the popular narrative.

The 29 April 1865, Shal-baf agitation against brutal tax system, also known in our history as the Zal Dagar Tragedy for the Maharaja’s soldiers drowning to the death twenty-eight persons also added a to our history a group of icons of the resistance- unlettered  ‘proletarians’. These included Ali Pal, Rasool Shah, Qoodeh Lala and Sona Shah. Of these Qoodeh Lala and Sona Shah who along with others were whipped and lashed, died in custody in Jammu- the two have passed into our contemporary history as the first Custodial Killings. Thousands of workers had revolted against the cruel tax system- out of monthly earnings of eight rupees the weavers were coerced to pay five rupees as a tax to the government. For the weavers putting a heroic battle for protecting their right to the wages and refusing to brutish taxes – the Zaldagar Day could be observed in the states as the ‘Just Wages Day’. Likewise, the 20th July, could be observed as a day of the ‘Dignity of Labor and against Corruption’. On this day in 1924, about four thousands Muslim laborers, demanding higher wages and ending of corruption in the Silk Factory owned by the government were charged by the troops armed with fixed bayonets under direct command of Raja Hari Singh Commander-in-Chief. ‘Ten Silk Factory workers were killed and scores others injured. The wounded were taken to the Mission Hospital and corpses of those killed were taken in a lorry.’ To quote historian Dr. Abdul Ahad, “Thus, the Kashmir history was slowly preparing for new political scenes. It was by degrees melting into new scenes.”

In the grand saga of our freedom struggle there are many other dates that for their significance to the political narrative of the land could be commemorated by the people for rededicated themselves to the ideals and the cause that our ancestors fought for. On 14, October 1924, Kashmiris agitated before the Viceroy of India, Lord Reading for the restoration of the political and religious freedom– the rights snatched from the 90 percent population of the state. The 15 October,  could be observed as the ‘Freedom of Expression and Right to Dissent Day’ for the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference adopting a resolution in this regard on this day.

There are many days in the post-1948 Jammu and Kashmir that need to be recognized internationally for upholding the preamble of the UN Charter. The United Nations has designated many days for protecting the human rights and ending the violations of rights in the world. It needs to designate 14 July as the day against the “dead eyes”. On this day in 2016, in a remote village in South Kashmir a 14-year class ten girl student was fired with 100 pellets in her eyes- and blinded for rest of her life.  In the world the ‘pump-action pellet guns’ were for the first time used for blinding people in   Kashmir.   More than five hundred people aged, six to eighties blinded in less than five months and eyes of hundreds of others partially damaged. For blinding people in Kashmir in such huge numbers the year 2016 continues to be remembered as the year of the ‘epidemic of dead eyes’ in Kashmir. The brutish use of a pellet pump gun for blinding people should be the cause for concern to the United Nations and it should be internationally banned.

The UN designated 14 July as “Anti-Dead Eye Day” can help in preventing the use of pellet guns for blinding people in the world.





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