The Forgotten Massacre – Anantnag Massacre

Farhana RakshandMassacres, Memories, September Comments

Only a few know about this grave incident, that too in Kashmir while it is counted nowhere in India or the world. Every year people celebrate martyrs day on 13 July but nobody knows what happened in Anantnag, who also laid their lives for a cause, for freedom. Lost in the annals of history, Anantnag Massacre should not be forgotten anymore.

It was the year 1924, when in Vale Of Anantnag, Clashes between two communities erupted. And these clashes no doubt took a heavy toll of killings. Hindu’s were mostly residing in Anantnag, from Ashmuqam to Khanabal and many were dispersed over other parts of Anantnag. They were treated well by Musalmaans of Anantnag, but Hindus always watched them with a suspicious eye. On 2nd June 1924, at Sherbagh (a place some few kilometers from my home), the Muslims of Anantnag thought of building a Chabutra (Pigeon-Tower) around a Chinar tree as they wanted to use that ‘Chabutra’ as a place where Muslims can freely offer prayers in future. I heard from my an old great Old man, that when this news of building Chabutra was spread across the localities, So many people came with their holdings, some with their saved money, some decided to sell a piece of land and vice versa. Every Muslim was so happy about this decision that all the men and women throughout Anantnag assembled and discussed a lot about

Every Muslim was so happy about this decision that all the men and women throughout Anantnag assembled and discussed a lot about building that sacred place. At that time, there was no transport, so it was difficult for them to go Srinagar and bring a vehicle full of stones, so they decided to fetch stones from the hill which is close to Sherbagh (today known as High-ground of Army). But to their utmost fate, people from Hindu community informed Maharaja Pratap Singh about their idea of building a Chabutra and also requested him not to grant permission to the Muslim community as they are devising a strategy against Hindu’s. But this was all a baseless and illogical thing which Hindu’s pondered upon. After some days Maharaja sent one of his officials to take the account of the situation in Anantnag on 27 June, 1924 and he devised a decision that Muslims should drop their idea of building the Chabutra. However, it was a unanimous decision from the Maharaja’s court.

The whole Muslim community of Anantnag felt disgusted about the decision of Maharja, and they thought of themselves as an elite group. They tried many times to reach the Mahraja, but were not allowed. On 23rd September 1925, Maharaja Pratap Singh died and the throne was ascended by Maharaja Hari Singh while whole J&K was involved in celebrations, may it be anywhere, from all the govt offices to Private offices while the celebration doubled after some years when on 10th March 1931, Karan Singh, son of Maharja Hari Singh was born.

It was also in the reign of Maharaj Hari Singh, when in the same year July 13, 1931, an incident of gunfire took place where 22 people were killed outside the central jail.

The result of this was resentment in the Muslim Community against the Dogra rule as they were the ones behind the killing of 22 Muslims. There was unrest everywhere among Muslims in Kashmir and the people of Anantnag were constantly in touch with people from Srinagar, as they wanted to have a share in their part of sorrow. They wanted to show their support towards people of Srinagar as there were massive arrests of Muslim leaders, truce etc going on there.

Finally came 23rd September 1931, when Panic with full tide wave spread across Anantnag. As during the day course, people from Jamia Masjid Ziyarat Reshi after praying ‘Asar’ gathered on the ground near Jamia Masjid to show their unity and strength and headed for a procession to Lalchowk. The protest was full of youth, Namazis, as they headed forward, they were reciting, takbir-Allah-0-Akbar­.

On their way, many pedestrians started joining the massive procession, and planned to offer Maghreb and Isha in Eidgah. As the procession reached Lal Chowk, Magistrate Raghunath Mattoo, who was known for his notorious nature, ordered Dogra troops to stop the procession and stop them from heading towards Eidgah. While they were stopped there, the people decided to go to Malakh Nag Masjid. They planned to offer a namaz there, after which the procession would disperse. The streets leading to Malak Nag were narrow, Unfortunately, the procession had to turn back (the streets heading to Malakh Nag, even today are narrow). Some people who were, unfortunately, the last ones, were still leading the procession. It was then the magistrate Raghunath Mattoo along with the army, followed the procession and closed all the exits. It is believed Raghunath Mattoo had planned a mass killing. The crowd, all trapped had no place to disperse and run away.

Tension gripped the procession, as they were fearing for their lives, some tried to break the exits placed by the dogra army. Some educated protestors demanded a safe passage, however, they were not listened to. At a sudden moment, Raghunath Mattoo gave a signal to one of his cops and the cop shot seven bullets to one of the protestors. People started running here and there but in vain and in frantic efforts. About then the Dogra troops had started firing at the people. Twenty one Muslims died on the spot and many were injured. After this tragic incident, the dogra troops along with Raghunath Mattoo, headed towards the temples of Baghordi Andarnagh, Kadipora. They saw a man, who was known as righteous and pious trying to run away after seeing them yet they shot him also. The number of casualties turned from 21 to 22, also including a 13-year-old boy, Ghulam Hussain Malik. This is just an official number, the reality is something else, and more disastrous and bizarre. As many other people were also killed whosoever was spotted by the Dogra army. A guard with the police on duty was also shot, and a baker as well, while pulling his shutter to his bakery shop.

The dead bodies were scattered all over the street at lal chowk, and a well known person Wali Deen, with the help of others brought the dead bodies to Masjid Shah. The injured were helped by the known doctors, Ms. Gomery and Ms. Coverder from the Missionary hospital. They saved many lives and people from Anantnag will never forget their act of kindness.

(English Translation by Farhana Rakshand of an urdu article written by her father, Abdur Rehman Siddiqui on the Anantnag Massacre of 1931. It was first published in Greater Kashmir in 2013).

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Farhana Rakshand