Kartarpur spawns demands for opening of other religious corridors in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir

The abandoned Sharda Devi temple across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir was once a major centre of learning and was regarded as one of the 18 highly-revered temples in South Asia.

Published: 10th February 2019 09:16 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th February 2019 09:16 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

After the Kartarpur Corridor, demands are gaining ground for construction of other such corridors in Punjab and Kashmir so that people on both sides of the border can visit religious shrines and pay their obeisance.

In December 2018, Kashmiri Pandits had held a protest in Anantnag demanding that a corridor on the lines of Kartarpur be opened to the Sharda Peeth in Neelam Valley in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) from Teetwal in north Kashmir. Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, both former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir, had also requested the PM to look into this matter.

The abandoned Sharda Devi temple across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir was once a major centre of learning and was regarded as one of the 18 highly-revered temples in South Asia.

Sunny Raina, secretary of the All-Party Migrant Coordination Committee, said, “Our Shankaracharya prayed at this temple which is 22 km inside PoK from the LoC in Baramulla on the Indian side. In 2000, an indefinite hunger strike was held over this issue in Gujarat by our chairman Vinod Pandit. At that time, Narendra Modi, then the Chief Minister of Gujarat, gave us an assurance that a corridor will be made for the temple. Now that he is the Prime Minister, we want that he should fulfill the promise,” said Raina.

Similarly, devotees from Pakistan want passage to the historic dargah of Sufi saints Hazrat Khidmat Ali Shah and Hazrat Azmat Ali Shah at Raja Tal on Khemkaran border in Punjab. The devotees from Pakistan cannot visit the dargah, where locals are keeping the Sufi tradition alive.

“The people of Kasoor in Pakistan have been demanding a corridor to this dargah, which is right on the International Border. Before 1980, people from Pakistan used to visit the dargah and religious fairs were held. Once the border fencing was done and the relations between both countries deteriorated, they were stopped.

Chaudhary Manzoor Ahmed, the former member of Pakistan’s National Assembly, has been raising the issue in his country, said Ramesh Yadav, president of the Folklore Academy.

Bone of contention

Hazrat Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah: In December 2017, 192 Pakistani pilgrims were denied visas to participate in the death anniversary celebration of Hazrat Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya in Delhi, a major Sufi shrine in India. This was despite the dargah being included under Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines between India and Pakistan

Katas Raj: The temple dedicated to Lord Shiv, located in Pakistan’s Punjab, holds major significance for Hindus. At the time of the 1965 Indo-Pak war, Indian pilgrims were barred from visiting the temple. In 2005, then BJP chief L K Advani was invited to the inauguration of the restoration work at Katas Raj. Next year, 300 Hindus from India visited the temple for Shivratri. But in February 2018, Pakistan refused visas to 173 Katas Raj temple pilgrims

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