SMC seals structure built on temple land in Barbarshah

Following the High Court’s reprimand, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) has taken action against land mafia involved in encroachment and illegal construction on temple land belonging to displaced Kashmiri Hindus.
The corporation has stopped the construction of a hotel-cum-shopping complex on the land belonging to the Mandir Devi Bajrang in the Barbarshah area of Srinagar. It has also sealed the structure. The shrine was abandoned in 1990 when 3.50 lakh Hindus left the Valley at the onset of militancy.
Till the Deputy Commissioner gets the property demarcated as per the court direction, the building has been sealed under the J&K Municipal Corporation Building By laws, 2011, and the structure has been put under “superdari” of the Station House Officer, Kral Khud police station, and ward no. 5 officer.
A portion of the land belonging to the temple was given on lease in 1960s where a flour mill was operating till late 1980s. After the migration of Hindus, the mill was abandoned. During the militancy years, the land was allegedly illegally transferred to an influential businessman who started constructing a shopping complex and hotel.
On several occasions, the High Court had taken notice of non-seriousness on the part of the government to act against the people who were raising illegal constructions on the land belonging to ancient shrines.
When contacted, SMC Commissioner Riyaz Ahmad Wani said, “We have sealed the premises and the Revenue Department will identify and demarcate the land belonging to the temple. The building will be demolished once a report is furnished to us about any wrongdoing. Action will be taken against people based on the report.”
It is alleged that the 14-kanal plot, recorded in the name of Mandir Devi Bajrang, was under the management of Ram Kinkar Dass. The entries in revenue records further revealed that the temple land measuring 6 kanals 13 marlas, under lease agreement, was incorporated in the records vice mutation number 1362 and 3029.
“We are hopeful that the administration will act and demolish the structure. There are several such cases which we have submitted to the Divisional Commissioner’s office. Action will show the intention and commitment of the government,” said Sanjay Tikku, president, Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), an organisation of non-migrant Hindus.
The KPSS is fighting the case in the High Court seeking action against illegal encroachment on land belonging to ancient shrines in the Valley after the exodus of Hindus.