BY RASHID KHAN
Suyyapore, or Sopore, is an ancient city which came into being on the banks of River Jhelum (named as Vitasta in Rigveda) in 880 AD during King Avantivarman’s reign. It was named after Suyya who was an Utpala Engineer and an irrigation minister of King Avantivarman.
A city which boasted of its rich heritage, culture and ethnic identity was one of the most advanced cities of its time as all trade routes passed through Sopore in North Kashmir.
Many centuries later, this beautiful bustling city famous for its tongawalas, cinema halls and a beautiful river front turned into bastion of conflict.
What made this happen? There are majorly three factors which can be attributed to the problems of this city. Firstly, it became a strong support base for separatist politics, under the leadership of Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
Secondly, after the eruption of violence in the valley, Sopore became a hub of such organizations. Thirdly, the fear psychosis created left locals with no choice but to go with the emergent trends.
I was a kid when my parents used to tell me to be careful while venturing into the town. Such was the fear factor created by militancy in the minds of people. Thirty years on, a dramatic shift is seen in the city. It is struggling to restore its lost charm.
Past decades bought unimaginable miseries to the families living in this town. Some elements took advantage of the local populace, many a time spreading fear. Realizing the futility of all the activities prevalent during this time, the youth has now slowly turned towards peace and development.
The young generation feels desolated, and yearns for a peaceful future. Sopore is at the cusp of a new dawn.
The democratic process has started functioning. Breaking the norm of election boycotts, there was unprecedented participation of people in the recently held DDC elections which has raised hopes among common people. People have realized that democratic process has its strength.
The elected DDCs of Tujjar and Zaingir are young men chosen by people. Similarly the Municipal Council Chairperson, locally known as the Iron Lady of Sopore is on a mission to revive Sopore. There is a tectonic shift towards patriotism among the youth. The youth of the area have united to take steps forward.
The number of sports clubs and youth clubs which are mushrooming daily only signify the intent towards progress while shunning the baggage.There is a zeal to build a stronger peaceful society and build the road ahead which our forefathers paved.
The focus is to revive and maintain our ancient shrines like Khankah which was built by Sultan Sikander and rebuilt again by Khwaja Kakroo of Baramulla after the building collapsed during an earthquake in 1884 AD.
It is imperative to celebrate the festivals of Rahim Sahib, Syed Sahib and Pir Baba Yousuf and also refurbish the three Hindu temples on River Jhelum namely Risihipur, Brahmin and Bhairo mandirs to bring the city back to its old glory.
Not only monuments, but role models like Samad Pandit lived in Sopore, who was popularly known as ‘Hatim Tai of Kashmir’.
He was an entrepreneur and famous for his generosity. He setup the ‘Samad Talkies’ which was the first cinema theater of Kashmir. Today’s youth is working to bring back the Kashmiriyat and the Sufi culture which was our core identity.
Sopore had a Muslim, a Pandit and Sikh community staying next to each other and would participate with full vigour in each other’s social festivals and religious events.
The focus is to build Sopore as Suyyapore yet again as a multicultural and multi-ethnic society which would live in perfect peace and harmony.
Rashid Khan is a youth club president and a social activist
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.