Days after inauguration of Kartarpur corridor, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to open Sharda Peeth in Pakistan administered Kashmir for devotees.
“Wrote to PM @narendramodi for opening of ShardaPeeth route for facilitating the Pandit community. I hope like Kartarpur, this too will be considered for better peace & prosperity in the region,” Mehbooba tweeted.
Mehbooba said Kartarpur was a good beginning and her party welcomes it, “But road to peace and reconciliation between India and Pakistan passes through Kashmir,” she said. “(Opening) Kartapur corridor and Wagah border are important but no reconciliatory measure is going to help if J&K is kept aside.”
Terming ShardaPeeth in “Pak administered Kashmir” as an “important relic of Kashmir’s glowing history”, Mehbooba has written to the Prime Minister that the shrine was an important place of pilgrimage for Kashmiri Pandits and was frequented by them till Partition.
Kartarpur, Mehbooba says, has encouraged Pandit community to see a possibility of pilgrimage.
“Our belief is strengthened by reported offer of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to allow it along with pilgrimage to Katas Raj,” Mehbooba writes in the two-page letter.
Expecting that her request would be considered on priority, Mehbooba says though it will be a measure specific to Pandit community every citizen of the state would welcome it. “It would considerably help in addressing the feeling of despondency in major section of population (and) it would fit very well in the vision of pulling J&K out of miseries through diplomatic and political means away from death and destruction we witness with unending regularity,” Mehbooba has written.
Kartarpur Sahib, where Guru Nanak is believed to have spent last 18 years of his life, is situated in Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province. After persistent demands by Sikh devotees for building a corridor, linking it with Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district, the central government approved the corridor last month and urged Pakistan government to reciprocate.
On November 28, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan performed the ground-breaking ceremony of the corridor along with Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and two Union ministers.
Mehbooba, who sees opening of Kartarpur as a window of opportunity, said J&K was an “important link” in relations between India and Pakistan.
“The CBMs have to flow through Jammu and Kashmir. Excluding J&K from any CBM will not have same impact in Indo-Pak relations,” Mehbooba said.
Stating that opening of Uri-Muzafarabad and Poonch-Rawalakot routes was an achievement, Mehbooba said ShardaPeeth initiative can be followed with opening of Kargil-Askardu, Jammu-Sialkote and other traditional routes.
The ancient temple of Sharda lies in Neelam Valley, 160 km from Muzaffarabad, and right across Line of Control in a small village of Shardi. “ShardaPeeth can help break the ice between the neighboring countries. At present they are glaring and growling at each other when they need to look at each other,” said Mehbooba, adding the two countries need to look at things which bind them together rather than things which separate them.
Sharda Peeth or the Sharda Temple in POK, is considered to be the basic seat of learning of Hindus in India and across Asia. Sharda lipi (a form of Hindi) was the dialect of Sharda. It was the fundamental dialect of Brahmin scholars till Hindi (Devnagiri) eventually took over. Kashmiri Pandits are not naïve to this seat of learning. In the post partition era, Swami Nand Lal Ji, one the prominent Saints of Kashmir, carried some of the idols during the partition and salvaged some of those lost. He migrated on horses carrying idols from Sharda to Tikker, and a few of these stone idols are still found at Devibal, Baramulla. The pilgrimage was organized by Mela Ram, a renowned forest lesse in Kupwara for Swami Lal Ji of Kashi- Mathura fame. Recently Pakistan based scholar, Ms Rukhsana Khan, has undertaken an archaeological study on the temple and researched some interesting historical facts. Her study takes us back to Maharaja Ranbir Singh’s era and the fact that Jammu Haveli’s still exist there (along with other temples and natural carvings such as Ganesh Ghati). The year 2015 was marked as rewriting of history, when Rukhsana Khan and her team unearthed antiques and have ever since worked on preservation of culture for the Sharda Project. Historically, Adi Shakracharya had set up a university at this site. Although the date of construction of this temple is unknown; during Emperor Lalitaditya’s period the present style of temple was known to be built in 724 AD.