PDP leader and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding the opening of Sharada Peeth, a revered temple across the Line of Control for Kashmiri Pandits.
“Wrote to PM Narendra Modi for opening of Sharda Peeth route for facilitating the Pandit community. I hope like Kartarpur, this too will be considered for better peace & prosperity in the region,” Mufti tweeted.
The move comes days after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, during the inauguration of Kartarpur corridor, was quoted as saying that his government “could consider other proposals including opening up travel for the Sharada Peeth in Kashmir…”
Wrote to PM @narendramodi for opening of Sharda Peeth route for facilitating the Pandit community. I hope like Kartarpur, this too will be considered for better peace & prosperity in the region.
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) December 1, 2018
The ancient temple of Sharada (also spelt Sharda or Sarada) and the adjacent ruins of Sharada University lie in Neelam Valley, 160 km from Muzaffarabad, and right across the Line of Control in a small village, Shardi or Sardi, where the river Neelam (Kishanganga) converges with the Madhumati and Sargun streams. The Save Sharada Committee, which has been spearheading the campaign to allow Kashmiri Pandit pilgrims access to the Sharada temple, says it has members on both sides, and has petitioned the central government, and also written to the Pakistan Prime Minister.
Ravinder Pandita, who heads the Save Sharada Committee had said, “And now as I hear, he (Imran) has talked about it, it has given us a lot of hope.
“We have a cross-LoC permit in force since 2007… but this is only for J&K residents to meet their relatives. We want an amendment; we want religious pilgrimage added so that we can visit Sharada.”
Although Sharada has been out of bounds for Kashmiri Pandits since Partition, the demand for allowing a pilgrimage gained momentum in 2007 after a visit by Prof Ayaz Rasool Nazki, a Kashmiri scholar and former regional director of the Jammu & Kashmir chapter of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.