An ancient hanuman temple, just beneath the Hari Parbat in Srinagar has been lying in ruins since the early 90’s. The temple remains unattended and as per locals, there have been repeated attempts to encroach upon approximately 10 canals of land that surround it, each time, saved by the local Muslims.
On Friday, yet another attempt was made to encroach upon the temple’s land and was foiled by residents who alerted the authorities in time. “There have been several attempts to encroach and sell of this piece of land but owing to the alertness of locals, such incidents have been prevented,” Dr Mushtaq Khan, a resident of Kathi Darwaza told The Indian Express.
On Friday morning, owing to restrictions in the old city area, alleged land mafia brought tin and timber to the plot and began constructing a boundary around the plot, Khan said. “I found out, some of us went to the spot to prevent the construction and then we alerted the Chief Minister’s grievance cell.”
He added that the men at the spot were carrying a letter from the ‘Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti’, (a body of Kashmiri Pandits in the valley that has been demanding protection of Hindu temples in the valley) allowing construction in the area, that was later found to be fraudulent. The District Commissioner, Srinagar Syed Abid Rasheed Shah, who was also informed of this incident said that immediate efforts were made to seize the construction material and one accused was arrested from the spot. “One person was arrested from the spot and the matter is under investigation,” he stated. The DC added that “we will make concerted efforts to ensure that no property around any religious structure is encroached upon. I also request locals to bring all such incidents to our notice.”
Locals allege that several plots of government land in the area was similarly encroached upon and sold off, over the years. The temple has not had a priest or a mahant in several years and lies in the guardianship of the locals.
President of the KPSS Sanjay Tikoo stated that although the organisation has approached authorities in Srinagar to allow fencing of the temple, but they “did not send anyone to the temple to begin construction of the boundary.” Tikoo said that despite a High Court order directing the state to remove encroachment on Hindu temples in Srinagar, “encroachment attempts occur frequently.”
According to him, of about 257 Hindu temples, shrines and aashrams in the valley, about 150 are encroached upon or sold multiple times without knowledge of the authorities.