Sharada temple in PoK: Kashmiri pandits demand pilgrimage, regular prayers
Bengaluru: The Save Sharada Committee in Kashmir has demanded that the Sharada temple in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) be opened for Kashmiri pandits and Hindus from the rest of India for pilgrimage on the lines of the Kartarpur corridor for Sikh devotees.
The committee has also demanded that the prayers commence in the temple “as has happened in the religious places in conflict zones around the world.”
Ever since the Kartarpur Gurudwara was reopened after 72 years, the Indian and Pakistan governments, which sat across the table, formed a draft and that was signed. We say if Kartarpur has been re-opened, why not Sharada. I myself travelled to Kartarpur, why am I not allowed to travel to Sharada Peeth? Ravinder Pandita, the founder of the Save Sharada Committee, told reporters here.
Pandita, along with other Kashmiri pandits, was here to check the progress of the construction of a new Sharada base camp temple at Teetwal near the Line of Control. The temple is being sculpted here using granite rock on Magadi Road in Bengaluru, which would be transported to the border village in the next 45 days.
Explaining, he said there is a mechanism, which is called the Line of Control permit between government of India and the government of Pakistan on how to travel across and how to go to the PoK.
Under the LoC permit, the GoI and GoP have agreed that if someone has a relative across the LOC or those people have their relatives here in Indian side of Kashmir they can travel on an LOC permit. It is not a visa but an instrument like the Kartarpur permit, Pandita said.
He claimed that he had applied twice times for a permit but was denied everytime because there is a clause that the person should have to have a relative on the other side without which the permission cannot be granted.
The irony is that the government of India denied us permission because there is a rider that one should have relatives there. I don’t have relatives there but my faith is on the other side of the LoC, my Mother Sharada is there. So, I want an amendment in the existing LOC permit rules to allow pilgrimages, Pandita said.
Speaking about his efforts, he said he had met officials in various ministries. “In principle, the Pandits have been granted permission by the Home Ministry, and the External Affairs Ministry is also looking into it but nothing happened. Unless and until all the Sharada followers and all the Shankaracharyas raise their voice, nothing will happen,” he said.
Regarding the stopping of prayers at Sharada temple, he said, Nowhere in any conflict zone in any part of the world prayers are stopped even for a day in the religious shrines, be it Al-Aqsa mosque or Church of Turkey but it has been stopped at Sharada for the last 72 years.
Speaking about the new Sharada temple at the ancient Sharada temple pilgrimage base camp at Teetwal, he said it is being built in 4,500 sq ft at an estimated cost of Rs 1.2 crore.
The land was discovered and demarcated by the local residents who are also assisting in constructing the temple, he explained.
“We are building a new temple at Teetwal. We are getting support from Sringeri Sharada Peeth in Karnataka, which has approved the map of the temple and are offering panchaloha statue of the Goddess and other support for the reconstruction and reclamation of this temple,” Pandita said.
The new temple also accommodates a Sikh Gurudwara as used to exist in 1947. Revenue records showed there was Sikh land, said the Save Sharada Temple Committee founder.
“We have laid the foundation of this temple. Rest of the super structure, the main temple stone, we are getting it done at Magadi. We had been to that place. Half of the temple is already ready,” said Pandita.