Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Vandalizing Heritage

Parihaspora locals allege complicity of Tehsildar and police; blame administration for inaction

7th century Buddhist structures facing destruction

Srinagar: It’s not only official neglect but official complicity too that has brought the seventh century Buddhist structures at Parihaspora in Pattan on the verge of obliteration.

“The extraction process has been going on here without any respite for past many years and now the situation is such that the monuments might cave in any time.”

Despite being the an area of great archeological importance housing ancient seventh century Buddhist structures including a temple of Kanishka’s and Lalitaditya’s eras, the Gawadran area in Parihaspora Pattan in north Kashmir Baramulla district is under the sickle these days.

Locals allege their repeated pleas to the concerned agencies have failed to move them.

Quoting a delegation of local residents, KNS news agency said people allege the complicity and patronage of the Tehsildar Pattan and blame Station House Officer (SHO) of Police Station Pattan as being responsible for some irreparable damage being done to the archeological site and its structures.

Even though the structures at Gawadran Parihaspora are protected monuments under the Ancient Monuments Act, yet the extraction of soil from the area continues without any respite. They say a local landlord, who has procured some 40 kanals of land around the archeological site for setting up some business there, is using mechanical excavators for soil extraction.

“The extraction process has been going on here without any respite for past many years and now the situation is such that the monuments might cave in any time,” the delegation said.

They said they had reported the matter to the district administration as well as to the authorities at Archeology, Archives and Museums department, “but so far no action has been taken”.

The officials in the Archives department say they had reported the matter at Police Post Mirgund as well as at Police Station Pattan “but the SHO there is not ready to entertain an FIR in this regard,” reported KNS.

Confirming the archeological importance of the area vis-à-vis its history dating back to Kanishka’s time, KNS quoted an official as saying that there is evidence suggesting that in the seventh century, Kanishka has organized a Buddhist conference at Parihaspora. Experts say there are proofs suggesting presence of some really important archeological artifacts in the area which needs further exploration.

“However, if the extraction of soil and subsequent constructions continue, there is little doubt that the world might lose this important historic site forever,” warned an official.

He said as per the Ancient Monuments Act, there can be no extraction or construction activity even in the vicinity of any protested place. “Whatever is happening at Parihaspora is completely illegal and violation of law and it couldn’t happen without the active connivance of police,” the official, who didn’t want to be named, confessed.

Locals informed that on Saturday Deputy Commissioner Baramulla visited the site and ordered that extraction process be halted “but immediately after DC left the area, the activity was resumed and excavators employed to take out soil from the area.”
It is pertinent to mention here that besides being a protected site, Parihaspora, owing to its historic and archeological importance, is also being brought on the tourism map.

“In this connection the Union Tourism Ministry as well as the Tourism department in Kashmir have already initiated measures through formal communication with the district administration, but these files too are gathering dust as no one in the administration seems interested in protecting this site,” KNS quoted some officials as saying.

(Kashmir Images)

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