Kashmiri Pandits want to visit Sharda Peeth

Srinagar

Hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits on Sunday held a protest march in south Kashmir’s Islamabad district and demanded the Sharda Peeth corridor between Neelam Valley in PoK and Teetwal in north Kashmir be reopened on the lines of the Kartarpur Corridor.

Ruins of Sharda Peeth shrine in Neelum Valley of PaK.

The protesting devotes under the banner of All Party Migrant Coordination Committee (APMCC), assembled at in Islamabad district raising slogans in support of reopening the route to PoK. The Kashmiri Pandits have been seeking permission to visit the historic site for decades now. It is located in the Neelum Valley on the other side of the Karnah belt in Kupwara.

India and Pakistan last week laid the foundation stones of the Kartapur corridor on their respective sides. The construction of the corridor is expected to be complete in five months, facilitating the visit of Indian Sikh pilgrims to the 16th-century gurdwara in Kartarpur in Pakistan.

In this regard, the heads of the Pandit associations have pressed for an early opening of a corridor to Sharda Peeth, as they have been waiting for the initiative for decades.

Sharada Peeth is an abandoned early medieval era Hindu temple located in Sharda village in Neelum valley, not far away from Kupwara. Then, it was a high seat of Hindu learning. The exact history of the temple is not known but its importance is part of Kashmir folklore. However, it has been suffering decay as part of ageing. Even during the 2005 earthquake, it suffered some damage.

Its importance has been the main factor why Kashmir government has been seeking permission for the people to visit the shrine. The request, though being discussed at the highest levels in India and Pakistan has not been agreed upon, so far.

Earlier, after opening the Kartarpur border crossing for the reunion of the divided Sikh families of Punjab, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had indicated opening two more routes, one is in Kashmir: the route to Sharda Peeth.

“We can consider other proposals including opening up travel for the Sharada Peeth in Kashmir, Katasraj and other Hindu shrines too,” Khan was earlier quoted as saying.

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