Srinagar: The newly created union territory of Ladakh and J&K will not celebrate the birth anniversary of region’s most prominent politician, Sheikh Abdullah on December 5 as a public holiday, which was otherwise a norm in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The general administration department of Ladakh on Thursday, December 26, released the list of holidays for the newly carved out union territory without the mention of Sheikh’s birth anniversary in the upcoming calendar year 2020.
According to the administration’s order number 17 of Ladakh UT, people in the Himalayan region will have 22 holidays as compared to 28 holidays in the previous calendar year for the entire state.
Earlier this month, the founder of National Conference (NC) Sheikh’s 114th birth anniversary was also kept out of bounds for the party members. They were barred from holding any congregational prayers at the tomb of Sheikh Abdullah, a first since his death in year 1982.
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NCs spokesperson Imran Nabi termed the exclusion as an aftermath of BJP’s direct rule in the region. “They have taken it upon themselves to carry out unsubstantial moves rather than any substantial developmental work and we do not expect anything from them. The move, however, does not change the facts on the ground with regards to the contribution that Sheikh Abdhullah had made for Kashmir,” Imran told NewsClick.
Sheikh, revered as the tallest leader from Kashmir and often referred as ‘Lion of Kashmir’, has his name inscribed on several valley institutions including a university and a hospital in the summer capital Srinagar.
Born in the outskirts of Srinagar city’s Soura locality in 1905 in a shawl weaver’s family, Sheikh became one of the leading political activists at the forefront of rebellion against the then Dogra regime and went on to form NC, which is one of the prominent political parties of the region.
A close aide of Congress leader Jawaharlal Nehru, he played an instrumental role in Jammu and Kashmir’s accession agreement with India. Post-independence, he served one time as Prime Minister of J&K and then twice as the erstwhile state’s Chief Minister. Following his death in office, his son Farooq became the chief minister of the state.
Another public holiday excluded from the list is Martyr’s Day, celebrated every year in the region on July 13. The day is remembered in the region to commemorate the killing of 22 civilians in year 1931 at the hands of Dogra forces in Srinagar. The Martyr’s Day celebrated as a public holiday for decades in J&K under successive rules never lost significance as politicians across political spectrum revered the day as a crucial moment in the region’s history.
BJP leaders in the region have many times expressed their opposition to both Sheikh Abdullah as well as to the Martyr’s day celebrations in the erstwhile state.
The union territory of Ladakh was carved out from J&K after the government abrogated Article 370 which guaranteed “special status” to J&K under the Indian constitution. Jammu and Kashmir was subsequently divided into two union territories and a severe clampdown was imposed in the region which continued for months.