On Geelani’s request, ‘Martyrs Memorial’ coming up at Muzaffarabad
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
In his letter No: PS/20/2012 dated 20-02-2012, ‘Prime Minister’ Choudhary Abdul Majid has informed Syed Ali Shah Geelani that the ‘Government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir’ has taken his suggestion and immediately started work on the memorial that would come up as a mark of tribute for thousands of Kashmiris and Pakistani nationals who had laid down their lives for the “freedom struggle” in the last 65 years.
Ch Majid has made it clear to Mr Geelani, the hardliner separatist heading his own Tehreek-e-Hurriyat and the radical faction of Hurriyat Conference, that the memorial would be not only a match but also far superior to such memorials standing in different countries in the West.
On February 9th, 2012, during his winter season stay at his Malviya Nagar residence in
New Delhi, Geelani had written a letter, requesting Choudhary to create a memorial at Muzaffarabad in honour and memory of thousands of Kashmiris who had “sacrificed their lives for Kashmir’s liberation in the last 65 years”. Geelani had pointed out to Ch Majid that war and martyrs memorials had been created in almost all the European cities after the World War II. Such memorials, according to Geelani, had been serving as an inspiration for the posterity in different nations that had ever waged a war or struggled for their freedom from ‘military occupation’.
Geelani had lamented to Ch Majid that the Valley’s separatist leaders had attempted to create a memorial for the “martyrs of the Kashmir freedom movement” at Iddgah in Srinagar but the “forces of occupation” (Police and security forces) had brought it down repeatedly. Even the civil society, according to Geelani, was held “on gun point” and not permitted to raise such a memorial in
“We have finally zeroed in on Muzaffarabad where a Martyrs Memorial could be raised without any hardship. Now that, your government’s annual budget is coming up in Assembly, we request you to please earmark a particular outlay for construction of the memorial so that we don’t feel constrained to move out with a begging bowl”, Geelani had written to Ch Majid.
Appreciating Geelani’s proposal, Ch Majid has informed the separatist leader that he, on his suggestion, he had immediately constituted a high level committee, headed by Minister of Finance, Planning and Development of ‘AJK Government’ Choudhary Lateef Akbar, for raising the Martyrs Memorial at Muzaffarabad. “The committee has been assigned to choose the venue, arrange an appropriate design for the minaret and supervise the execution of works.
“By the grace of Allah, this memorial will be outstanding among all such memorials and far more elegant than those created in the West”, Ch Majid has written to Geelani in a letter available with Early Times. “It will remind all future generations about the supreme sacrifices of the martyrs of the
Kashmir freedom movement”, Ch Majid has written to the octogenarian separatist leader. He has assured Geelani that the people and the ‘Government of Azad Jammu & Kashmir’ would continue their “political, moral and diplomatic support” to the Kashmiris and also keep “all possible resources” at their disposal. He has not mentioned how much of money was being spent on the memorial.
Notwithstanding opposition and criticism to such memorials among Pakistan-based Jihadist and pan-Islamist guerrilla groups, some of the Valley-based separatist leaders and ‘civil society groups’ had attempted this type of construction few years back. Attempts to raise a memorial at the “Martyrs Graveyard” of Iddgah were forcefully discouraged by the authorities. Later, some pro-Azadi civil society groups reportedly purchased land at a place on Srinagar-Narbal patch of the highway. However, none of such constructions began in the last six years.
Kashmir, Army has ‘martyrs memorials’ at Badami Bagh, headquarters of Srinagar-based 15th Corps. Memorial of ‘Battle of Budgam’ is existing in the cantonment in Srinagar in the name of the soldiers killed while fighting Pakistan-supported tribesmen and repulsing their attack on Kashmir in 1947. J&K Police has also raised a memorial at Zewan in outskirts in honour of the over 1500 personnel killed in militant attacks and encounters. This will be for the first time that a memorial would be created for thousands of militants and civilians killed in over 62,000 militancy related incidents from 1989 t0 2012. Srinagar