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Updated December 29th, 2023 at 18:27 IST

Sharda temple in PoK 'encroached by Pakistan Army', Save Sharda Committee seeks Centre's help

Pandita alleged that the Pakistan Army had occupied the deteriorating premises of the ancient Sharda temple

Zeenat Zeeshan Fazil
Sharda temple in PoK 'encroached by Pakistan Army', Save Sharda Committee seeks centre's help
Sharda temple in PoK 'encroached by Pakistan Army', Save Sharda Committee seeks centre's help | Image:Republic
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The Save Sharda Committee (SSC) has fervently appealed to the Indian government for intervention concerning the purported encroachment by the Pakistan Army on the Sharda temple grounds situated in Pakistan-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK).

Founder Ravinder Pandita, speaking at a press conference held in Bangalore, highlighted the committee's concerns. Despite a court ruling favouring the committee, Pandita alleged that the Pakistan Army had occupied the deteriorating premises of the ancient Sharda temple and established what they termed a 'coffee home'.

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"Save Sharda Committee urges the Government of India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address the encroachments and the recent establishment of a coffee home on the Sharda Peeth premises by the Pakistan army," stated Pandita during the press conference.

This move by the Pakistan Army, as emphasized by Pandita, comes despite a significant judgment issued by the Supreme Court of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir on January 3, 2023. The court ruling aimed to prevent such encroachments and protect the sanctity of the revered Sharda temple grounds.

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Pandita calls for Sharda Peeth reopening

Ravinder Pandita, standing in solidarity with the civil society in Pakistan-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK), has highlighted concerns regarding damages to the boundary wall of the Sharda Peeth. He passionately advocated for the reopening of the revered site to devotees, facilitating the resumption of pilgrimages. Expressing the urgency of the matter, Pandita issued a warning about a potential march towards the Line of Control (LoC) should the Pakistani authorities and army fail to promptly remove the controversial 'coffee home' from the premises.

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"We will rally for a march to the LoC and will not hesitate to cross it if the coffee home isn't removed by Pakistan authorities and its army. Supporters of Sharda Peeth should be prepared for this march in the near future," Pandita emphasised. Simultaneously, Pandita urged for the recognition of Sharda Peeth as a UNESCO heritage site, underlining its historical and cultural significance.

During a briefing with journalists, the SSC founder unveiled a newly launched website designed to provide comprehensive information and serve as a travel guide for pilgrims and tourists interested in the recently reconstructed Sharda temple at Teetwal. Pandita also shed light on the inauguration of the new Sharda Yatra Temple at Teetwal in Kashmir, inaugurated virtually on March 22 by Union Home Minister Amit Shah. He highlighted the support received from the Dakshinamnaya Sringeri Mutt in Karnataka for this initiative, underscoring the widespread backing garnered for the project.

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Teetwal stands as a testament to historical significance, serving as the pivotal base camp for devotees journeying to the revered shrine of Goddess Sharda before the partition. In a resurgence of spiritual significance, the newly constructed Sharda Yatra temple and a Sikh gurudwara, which previously stood at the identical location before the turbulence of 1947 led to its destruction during tribal raids, have emerged as focal points for pilgrimage. Since its inauguration in March of this year, these sacred sites have magnetised nearly 10,000 pilgrims, drawing individuals seeking spiritual solace and connection with their heritage.

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Published December 29th, 2023 at 17:45 IST

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