Sometimes it takes very long to get good news from Kashmir but sometimes there are two at once. So, no stereotyping please!
At a time when religion, by taking central stage in the public life across the country, is threatening to tear apart the social fabric, Kashmir has offered some fresh examples of how ‘State’ and the religion could work together for the common good.
For close to two decades, a vital road project connecting Srinagar with north Kashmir was in limbo as ‘religion came in the way’. By on December 12, the Gurdwara started making way for construction of the national highway after successful talks between the gurdwara management and Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary
In a widely-praised gesture from the Sikh community, Gurdwara Damdama Sahib, established in 1947 and located along the Srinagar-Baramulla road, is going to be shifted for the construction of a national highway following an understanding on Thursday between the gurdwara management and the Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar.
This development couldn’t get adequate attention as the country was busy watching madness for the ‘CAB’ and then ‘CAA’. But in less than ten days, there is some more good news coming from Srinagar.
In an exemplary act, the Muslim community has agreed to the demolition of a 40-year-old mosque to allow the completion of a long-awaited bridge over Jhelum river, officials said on Sunday.
They said the project has been pending since 2002 due to some bottlenecks including the presence of the mosque and some residential and commercial structures.
The demolition of the mosque began on Saturday, 24 hours after the signing of an agreement between Srinagar District Development Commissioner Shahid Iqbal Choudhary and the Managing Committee of Masjid Abu Turab at Qamarwari’s Rampora area, they said.
This is a second instance when the efforts of the deputy commissioner paved the way for resumption of stalled work on vital projects.
The officials said the district development commissioner held a series of meetings with the mosque management to resolve the major land acquisition issue, preventing the completion of the 166-metre two-lane bridge connecting Qamarwari with Noorbagh in the city.
The agreement reached between the government and the mosque management includes among others an offer from the district administration to bear all cost of the reconstruction of the mosque and its completion within 12 months, the officials said.
They said that the Rs 10-crore bridge project was started in 2002 but could not be completed because of issues surrounding such acquisition and removal of bottlenecks.
In spite of funding of over Rs 2.5 crore through the Jammu and Kashmir Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation (JKIDFC) in 2018, covering cost escalation to complete the project, the work remained stalled because of a total of 18 bottlenecks including the presence of the mosque, the officials said.
“Now that this main bottleneck in the completion of the project is sorted out, the work will be resumed and completed at the earliest,” Choudhary said.
He said a plan has also been finalised for relocation of other bottlenecks which includes a fire station and 16 residential and commercial structures.
He said alongside construction of the said bridge, the district administration would undertake flood protection and beautification works along Jhelum and repair adjacent roads and install smart lighting in the area.