ENCROACHMENTS SWAY MALKHA
GRAVE ISSUE BY ABID HAFIZ
Srinagar, Apr 29: For thousands of inhabitants of Shaher-e-Khaas, a big worry is cropping up among them and that is about shrinking space in historic City graveyard – Malkha which continues to get eaten away by encroachments.
The graveyard, which is believed to have been donated by 16th century saint Sheikh Baba Ismael Kubravi (RA), for burial, now houses hundreds of concrete building structures, many of which are located within the graveyard.
This has hurt sentiments of many. One such person Bashir Ahmad of Habakadal is moving from pillar to post to trace the space acquired by his ancestors at Malkha and his search has ended after he found it occupied by another family.
“This is not only my case but hundreds like me are struggling to find space at Malkha as grave mafia has over the years mushroomed and they sell the space,” he said.
Visibly upset Bashir is worried man these days as he is desperately attempting to acquire the burial place.
Blaming encroachment and vote bank politics, he alleged that mafia has got backing of political personalities of the area.
“It’s impossible to encroach upon the grave land unless one works in connivance with political masters. Fresh constructions are going on at Malkha. Why doesn’t SMC stop it?” he questions.
Constructions atop graves
The houses erected in the graveyard, mostly two to three storeyed, are feared to have been constructed on graves.
“This graveyard is our heritage in which many rulers and religious personalities are buried,” poet and social activist, Zareef Ahmad Zareef said.
Lamenting over the Malkha vandalization, Zareef said: “Our heritage was demolished by the political corruption in Kashmir.”
“It all started after 1947 when this Valley of saints fell into the hands of corrupt regimes,” he alleged.
“If these houses are removed you will find hundreds of graves underneath… Only God knows how many such graves will get buried under constructions if the process of encroachment will not stop,” said Bashir Ahmad, a local.
Apart from residential houses, for now, the graveyard also houses business units as one can see many makeshift shops in the cemetery.
The irony is that instead of having acted against the encroachers, the government provides them with basic amenities like water and power supply.
Those living in the graveyard, said they were willing for rehabilitation provided government provides them with “suitable alternative”.
“We are living here for the past 30 years. Now, if government wants to relocate us, we are ready provided we are given land and financial assistance,” said Muhammad Latief Sheikh, a local.
“We were being earlier assured by government that we would be provided land at Wanganpora, Eidgah but that promise was never fulfilled,” Latief added.
The local MLA and Cabinet Minister Ali Muhammad Sagar said the government was making proposals to remove these encroachments and go for their rehabilitation.
Experts believe that unless the government wakes up to conserve this legacy, Malkha will one day be a history buried under a full fledged residential colony
Lastupdate on : Sun, 29 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 29 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 30 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST
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