Over 200 temples in Kashmir have suffered damage: Govt

October 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Issues, Jammu and Kashmir, National, newsletter-india

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Jammu & Kashmir, October 4, 2012: Jammu and Kashmir government today said over 200 temples in the Valley have suffered damage over the years but there were no encroachments on any of the temple lands.

In a written reply to MLA Chaman Lal Gupta’s question in the state Assembly, the government said 208 of the 438 temples in the Valley had been damaged over the years. The government said the highest number of 57 temples have been damaged in Srinagar, the summer capital of the state, followed by south Kashmir’s Anantnag district where 56 temples have suffered damage.

However, the government, in its reply, did not elaborate as to how the temples were damaged. The rest of the eight districts in the Valley account for the other damaged temples with Bandipora having only one such instance. The government said while a total of 63 hectares of land were under the 436 temples in the Valley, there was no case of encroachment on these lands so far.

Various Kashmiri Pandit organisations have been demanding passing of the bill for protection of Hindu Temples and Shrines in Kashmir. Giving details of the damage to the private properties of migrants in the Valley, the government said nearly 75 per cent of the 1,234 structures in Srinagar district have been gutted while in south Kashmir Kulgam district nearly 85 per cent of the 754 structures have been damaged.

“In Srinagar district…most of the migrants have sold their property. However, the unsold properties have been protected in light of provisions of the J&K Migrant Immovable Property Preservation, Protection and Restrain on Distress Sale Act 1997,” the government said.

– pti

More than 50 village chiefs resign in Indian Kashmir following threats from Muslim extremists

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More than 50 village chiefs resign in Indian Kashmir following threats from Muslim extremistsJammu & Kashmir’s, September 26, 2012:  The decision comes after terrorist groups kill two local officials. Extremists fear losing support among the local populace. After last year’s first democratic elections in 30 years, various administrations have opened new schools, health clinics and roads, making people freer and better educated

More than 50 sarpanch (village chiefs) have resigned in Jammu and Kashmir after receiving threats from Islamic extremist groups. Their decision was made public in local Urdu-language newspaper following the assassination of a local administrator in Baramulla District, the second in less than two weeks. Locals believe the threats stem from fundamentalists’ fear of losing grassroots support in favour of village chiefs.

For the past eight months, village chiefs and their aides have been the victims of intimidation of terrorist groups like Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks) and Jaish-e-Mohammad. So far, more than 700 sarpanch have tendered their resignation.

Everything began in 2011 when the first free vote was held in Jammu and Kashmir’s panchayat (village-level administrations) in more than 30 years. Between 13 April and 27 June, more than 30,000 officials were elected with a 79 per cent turnout despite extremists’ threats and calls for a boycott.

Rapidly, the newly elected administrators launched a series of initiatives to favour the development of the poorest rural areas in the state, including schools, health clinics, roads and electricity.

Locals believe that the wave of democracy and progress pushed Muslim extremists to act in order to stop losing support in a population that was getting better educated.

For now, the two murders have been enough to cause panic among local administrators.

Nevertheless, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah urged panchayat officials to stay at their posts.

“The government,” he told them, “will do everything possible to create trust and bring security. Creating a network of strong and functioning local administrations remains one of its goals.”

– asianews