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".
Today, on Yaum-e-Shuhada-e-Kashmir, we salute Kashmiris for their continued struggle against the illegal & barbaric Indian occupation of Jammu & Kashmir. The Shuhada of 13 July 1931 were the forefathers of today's Kashmiri resistance.— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) July 13, 2020
Their descendants have, generation after generation, laid down their lives for freedom and today they continue to valiantly fight & defy a Hindutva Supremacist regime bent on demographic engineering to wipe out the Kashmiri people & their identity.— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) July 13, 2020
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.