Members of the Kashmiri diaspora marked the 89th anniversary of ‘Martyrs Day’ on July 13, calling for international intervention to resolve the Kashmir dispute.

The US-based World Kashmir Awareness Forum said in a statement that the world powers need “to pay heed to the longstanding wishes and aspirations of the Kashmiri people.”

On July 13, 1931, 22 Kashmiris were shot dead in Srinagar, the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, by soldiers of the then Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh.

“Kashmiris, throughout the world, will observe the solemn Day to reaffirm their resolve to continue their struggle for self-determination, and to pay homage to over 100,000 innocent men, women and children who have and continue to sacrifice their lives for the freedom of their beloved land over the 89 years since that fateful day,” said the forum.

The day to commemorate the people killed in a revolt against Singh, a Hindu autocrat, had been declared a national day soon after the birth of India and Pakistan in 1947 and was observed by all sections cutting across political and ideological affiliations.

“Their suffering has not ended despite the end of the despotic Dogra dynasty rule. The fate of Kashmiris changed for the worse, as it has been replaced by tyrannies of successive Indian regimes with various garbs of democracy,” the diaspora group said. 

It said the day — July 13 — every year reminds millions of Kashmiris how Singh’s troops took aim at each person who stood up to make the call (Adhan) for Friday prayer service.

“And by the time they were done, 22 innocent Kashmiri Muslims fell to the bullets, one after the other in cold blood, in front of Srinagar Central Jail,” the statement added.

“But the tyranny in Kashmir under the Hindutva nationalists has reached a new and unprecedented level of inhumanity. Kashmir has been under a lockdown and communication blackout for 11 months, and now it has been extended into August. No one is allowed to venture out to commemorate the event and pay tribute to the heroes of Kashmir history,” it said, seeking the release of political leaders.

The group also condemned the arrest of Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, chairman of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat pro-freedom party, who has reportedly been booked under the stringent Public Safety Act.

It made an “urgent plea to the world powers, including the US government and Congressional leaders, to heed the unbearable plight of hundreds of senior Kashmiri political leaders who are suffering from serious health issues.”

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