New Delhi, Dec 4: Former Sadar-e-Riyast of Jammu and Kashmir, Dr Karan Singh, has said that awareness should be created among students and youth for the protection of the state’s rich heritage which was on the verge of destruction. All the five regions of the state including Gilgit-Baltistan and Mirpur-Muzzafarabad are culturally rich and every plan to protect heritage should not lose sight of these areas also, he said.
Speaking at a seminar on Cultural Heritage of Kashmir on the concluding day of the three-day J&K Festival here on Sunday, Dr Singh said that during his tenure as member of the UNESCO he would like to see the Mughal Gardens of Kashmir figuring in its heritage list.
Offering to send UNESCO guidelines to the authorities concerned, he said that most of the proposals are rejected as these are not adequately prepared. Referring to the crumbling heritage of the state particularly Kashmir, he said it has happened as heritage protection had never been part of education in the state. The younger generations should be acquainted properly about this aspect of the state and once they evince interest the heritage protection will become easier, he felt.
Union Minister for Renewable Energy Dr Farooq Abdullah was the chief guest in the concluding function. He expressed hope that the composite culture of Kashmir, Kashmiriyat, should be restored to its full glory soon. "All of us will be able to go to Kashmir together," he said while referring to the displaced Kashmiri Pandit community, saying Kashmir is incomplete without the presence of the Kashmiri Pandits.
Earlier, Saleem Beg, Convenor, INTACH, J&K chapter, acquainted the gathering with the existing state of affairs of many heritage sites in Kashmir through a well compiled slide show. Not only did he showcased the restoration work done by various organisations at various sites in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, he also highlighted how some of the heritage buildings along the Jehlum embankments have been systematically vandalised paving way for “modern” structures.
Beg was of the view that the rich heritage of Srinagar can still be protected as not much damage has been done. “Urban landscape and river-line of Jehlum have not changed drastically. Despite a grave risk posed by the march of modernism, one can safely work on conservation plans to protect heritage character of the city,” he observed.
However, he felt that the task was difficult and needed urgent attention. Quoting an instance concerning lack of awareness among people and the authorities, he said the historic Mughal Gardens should essentially be retained as heritage property. Unfortunately, these sites are being treated as municipal parks.
Former Vice-Chancellor of Kashmir University, Dr Riyaz Punjabi, rued that while hue and cry was being raised on irrelevant issues in the state, but unfortunately protection of heritage was not being paid any attention. Lauding Government’s efforts in this direction, he said there was need to create public awareness to protect cultural and historical aspects of the state’s heritage. He gave a clarion call to the younger generation to respond and come forward to protect heritage.
The final day of the festival also hosted a ‘Mushaira’ in which selected poets from Jammu and Kashmir presented their composition. They were lauded by the capacity crowd at the IIC auditorium.
The grand finale came in the form of a rich cultural show showcasing various aspects of Kashmiri and Ladakhi culture. The Kashmiri cultural programme “Mouj Kashmir” and Ladakhi mask brought the curtains down on the festival. Earlier, Dogri play ‘Baba Jito’ presented by Natrang and directed by Balwant Thakur was also enacted.
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