SRINAGAR, April 28: A temple of Bhargshikha Devi located in Anantnag district of South Kashmir was vandalised on Wednesday by unidentified individuals. The temple is a part of the ancient Martand pilgrimage and is visited by thousands every year.
Pertinently, Anantnag adminsitration has rebutted the news floating on social media. A team of officers, headed by the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag, constituted by the concerned District Administration visited the religious place to ascertain the facts. After investigations and examination of the complex, all the properties were found intact. The main door to the premises was locked and keys handed over to the community members living in the area.
The District Administration has appealed all sections of the society not to pay any heed to such rumors aimed at creating trouble.
A meeting of Shri Martand Tirath Trust was held today under the leadership of its president A K Sidha in which grave concern was expressed over the desecration of the most revered and ancient temple of presiding deity Mata Bharg Shikha Bhagwati located at hilltop of Martand Tirah, Mattan Kashmir.
During the meeting general secretary Salegram Bawnoo and all the participants while condemning the act said the issue was brought in the notice of district administration and also the higher ups in the Government by the Sabha through Minister of Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation, A R Veeri.
It said Veeri asked the district administration to take immediate action in this regard. Later a team of district authorities led by Additional Deputy Commissioner along with Tehsildar, Naib Tehsildar and SHO Mattan visited the temple premises for an on the spot assessment and lodged a FIR in this connection.
The meeting was informed that the district administration has assured the strict action against the culprits who are hell bent to disturb the communal harmony with such acts. The meeting said the action of miscreants has hurt the sentiments of Hindus in general and Martand Biradri in particular.
Meanwhile Kashmiri Hindu Conference (KHC) president advocate M L Thusu and its convener P L Koul Budgami have also expressed their shock over the act and said that this shows that the situation is going out of control of government. They demanded that Government should act against such elements with heavy hand and ensure the safety of religious places and shrines in Valley with formation of Shrine Board as demanded by Pandits.
Independent candidate from Parliamentary Constituency of Anantnag Rakesh Koul and Jagti Tenement Committee president Shadi Lal Pandita have also strongly condemned the act and demanded security to Hindu shrines in the Valley.
They accused the Government of its failure in protecting the religious places and demanded immediate passage of Kashmiri Hindu Shrines and Temples Bill.
NOT THE FIRST
This is not an isolated incident. According to Jammu and Kashmir government, as many as 208 Hindu temples in the state were damaged during the past two decades by militants. However, Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti has rejected these figures, saying, “around 550 temples were damaged and 50,000 kanals have been encroached upon” since the Pandits were forced out of the valley by Islamists and separatists.
Most of these temples lie in South Kashmir. This part of the state has been at the centre of violent protests that erupted in the Kashmir Valley following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani. This area of Kashmir has been a fertile ground for militancy and seen lot of violence since Pakistan-sponsored and separatist-staged protests erupted.
On 24 April, militants killed ruling Peoples Democratic Party leader Abdul Gani. By some accounts, Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists are roaming freely in South Kashmir and enjoy widespread support from the local population. Therefore, it won’t be surprising if a future probe in this case points fingers at these organisations.