NAQSHBAND SAHIB(RA) SHRINE VANDALIZED

JKPCC ACCUSED OF DESTROYING ITS HERITAGE WALL

ARIF SHAFI WANI

Srinagar, Jan 29: Ill-planning and haphazard expansion works being undertaking by the State Government in the over 400 year old revered shrine of Naqshband Sahib (RA) at Khawaja Bazar in Shaher-e-Khaas, is taking a heavy toll on it. 
 Despite massive public outcry, the Government started expansion of the shrine in 2011 replacing its traditional outer structure with concrete to connect it with a newly constructed big hall.
 The Jammu and Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation (JKPCC) which has been entrusted with the shrine’s expansion has recently demolished one of its heritage walls and windows hurting sentiments of devotees.
 “Naqshband Sahib (RA) shrine is one of the revered religious places in the Valley. Since centuries devotees from across the Valley pay obeisance here. Ironically, none other than the State Government is responsible for vandalisation of the shrine,” said chairman of Valley Citizens Council, Zarief Ahmad Zarief.     
 Experts said demolition of the paper machied wall will weaken the shrine building. “Demolition of the wall has ruined the spiritual environs and traditional architecture of the shrine. This kind of unplanned intervention is against universally accepted norms of conservation of historic structures,” said an expert specializing in traditional architecture of Kashmir. 
 He said when the plan for expansion of the Naqshband Sahib (RA) shrine was formulated in 2011 many people including structural experts had strongly opposed it. 
 “But their pleas met with deaf ears. For argument’s sake, even if the expansion of the Shrine was necessary, Government should have taken stakeholders into consideration or utilized the services of some experts in restoration of heritage and Islamic architecture. Ironically, the expansion of the shrine has been entrusted to JKPCC which has no expertise in undertaking such sensitive works,” he said. 
 In absence of proper monitoring and sanitation by the Waqf Board, the premises of the Shrine is littered with garbage. The premises of the shrine also houses the graveyard of 1931 martyrs. From Khanqah side, the devari stone surface has caved in at many places
 Former bureaucrat Naeem Akhtar expressed strong resentment over unplanned constructions in the Shrine.
 “It is a serious case of vandalisation. It is a cognizable offence against the Protection of Monuments Act. The people who are responsible for the vandalization should be booked and arrested. Unless that is done, the politicians and others who are treating the shrines as a kind of their personal estate will not stop interfering and acting as god-father to construction mafia which drives the whole constructions in Shaher-e-Khaas,” Akhtar said.  
 Akhtar who is also spokesman of main opposition party Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said, “the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah owes an explanation for this vandalisation which is not confined to Naqshband Sahib but major distortions have been brought into Hazratbal Shrine and Khanqah-e-Moulla. “There is no word yet what caused the devastating fire in Dastgeer Sahib (RA) Shrine when the construction was going on there. The CM and the Waqf Board are answerable to people of Kashmir for vandalisation of religious places,” he added.
 When contacted General Manager JKPCC Muhammad Sultan Najar said the wall has been punctured to join it with the newly constructed hall.
 “We just execute the policy decisions. However, we are leaving no stone unturned to maintain sanctity of the Naqshband Sahib shrine,”   Najar said.

Lastupdate on : Tue, 29 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 29 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 30 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST




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