Construction to take Srinagar Eidgah; Opposition, locals protesttext_fields
Srinagar: After the BJP-led Jammu and Kashmir Waqf board announced fresh construction plans for the Eidgah ground here, a dispute kettle started heating up on fire.
The ground of 850 acres, which also accommodates graves of more than 1,500 who died in conflicts, including militants and protesters, in the last 33 years, might be the J&K administration's next target after the frequent closures of the historic Jamia Masjid after the revoking of J&K's special status. Many of the residents here, who use the ground for mass prayers during Eid, say that it is an attempt by the government to control Muslim space in the state, The Indian Express reports.
The Waqf board had announced that it would build a cancer centre in the Eidgah, while the J&K administration announced a state-of-the-art playground.
The Hurriyat, the separatist movement in the state, said that government wants to take over the "sacred" ground. But it is a holy, historical, cultural and spiritual space for Kashmiris.
Hurriyat had released a statement saying that Persian saint Mir Mohammad Hamdani bought the land seven centuries ago and dedicated it to the people for Eid prayers. But the administration now wants to build the cancer centre there despite there being other lands available for the same. It wanted to seize the graveyard of "martyrs", the release said.
The foundation stone for the Waqf board announced cancer centre might be laid soon by the Union Home Minister. But, it was a week after the board's announcement that Kashmir Divisional Commissioner Pandurag Pole made the announcement of building a playground there.
Former Chief Minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti slammed the administration, saying they wanted to build the hospital on the ground. Then they change it to the playground.
"For quite some time, talks about the Eidgah land are going around. Sometimes they say a cancer hospital will be developed there, and sometimes they say that it will be turned into a playground," TIE quoted Mufti.
The National Conference, questioning the logic, asked why the administration wanted to build a cancer centre in the middle of the city. Congress in the state stated that closing down the age-old Eidgah would hurt religious sentiments.
However, Waqf board chairperson and BJP leader Darakhshan Andrabi said the construction would not affect Eidgah or the graveyard. He added that it is Waqf board property, and the board would decide what to do with it. The board decided to build the cancer centre there and nowhere else.