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Sharapeeth pilgrimage for Kashmiri Pandits soon: PoK minister

Source: PTI
September 29, 2005 12:15 IST
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Pointing out that the centuries-old Sharadapeeth temple, a major pilgrimage centre for Kashmiri Pandits situated in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, was in a bad shape, PoK Minister for Auqaf and Religious Affairs Sahibzada Hafiz Hamid Raza has assured a delegation of Pandits would soon be allowed to visit the shrine.

"I met several delegations of Kashmiri Pandits and I have assured them that our government will take immediate steps to have a face-lift done of the temple," Raza, who was here to attend a conference, told PTI on eve of his return to Islamabad.

Kashmiri Pandits 'neglected' by J&K, PoK

"The temple is not in a good condition because of continued tension on the Line of Control and requires an immediate face-lift. Now that the tension has eased considerably, we plan to carry out the necessary work," he said, adding that his government was ready to facilitate the movement of the pilgrims to the temple.

Raza said he would take up the case with his government for earmarking funds annually in the budget for maintenance of the temple. "The temple has no caretaker as of now," he said.

A delegation of Kashmiri Pandits had, during an interaction with Raza in New Delhi, demanded that they be allowed to visit the Shardapeeth once a year. Raza had assured them he would facilitate their visit to the temple.

Has the peace process forgotten the Pandits?

The Kashmiri Pandits in India have been urging the Union home ministry as well as the Pakistan high commission in New Delhi to allow them to visit the shrine every year, in line with that of the Sikhs to their shrines in Pakistan.

Sharadapeeth, located 40 kilometres from Muzzafarabad, is an ancient religious seat for Kashmiri Pandits and the temple is symoblic of ancient religio-cultural heritage in Kashmir. There is no motorable road to the temple as it falls on way from Muzzafarabad to Baltistan, a part of Northern Areas annexed illegally by Pakistan to its own territory.

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