Friday, February 2, 2007
The Mirwaiz [chief priest] of Charar-i-Sharief on Friday urged the state authorities to restart the reconstruction of 600-year-old Khanqah of revered Sufi saint Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Wali (RA).
Mirwaiz Moulvi Amir-ud-din speaking at the Friday gathering at Charar said for the past 12 years the government has not been able to complete even a single floor of the proposed three-storeyed Khanqah building. He said devotees offer prayers in a tin shed and open skies in all weather conditions.
The Khanqah was gutted down in 1995 and it was only in 2002 that the Housing and Urban Development Department entrusted the reconstruction work to Jammu and Kashmir Project Construction Corporation.
The work is already 17 months behind its schedule.“It is irony that on one hand the authorities have set Rs 11.22 crores for reconstruction of the Khanqah and on the other they aren’t ready to spend few lakhs on construction of few bathrooms, which is said to be have led to stoppage of work two months back,” said Mirwaiz.
The reconstruction plan of Khanqah involves two floors for men for prayers and a separate basement floor for women.
“But for last five years even a single floor of the Khanqah couldn’t be completed. One wonders why the authorities are not serious about the work, and how many more years will it take for the completion,” said Mirwaiz.
The Mirwaiz told Greater Kashmir that given the historical importance of the Khanqah, where many religious saints including Hazrat Sheikh Noor Din Noorani (RA), had worshipped for years, the authorities should have prioritized its construction.
“But even after repeated assurances by the authorities from different governments, during last decade there was no change in pace of construction,” Mirwaiz said.
The people, according to the Mirwaiz, were so anxious to see the completion of the Khanqah, and many of them proposed to him that they would collect funds for reconstruction work.
“But whom should we hand over the funds? Earlier the people of Charar-i-Sharief collected Rs 13 lakhs and I handed them over to Wakaf Board (then Auqaf Muslim Trust), but they backed out from the reconstruction project on the pretext of non-availability of the funds,” said Mirwaiz.
For the past five years, Mirwaiz said he was continuously appealing the authorities on every Friday on behalf of thousands of pilgrims to take the reconstruction work seriously, as the Khanqah was one among the only six Khanqahs (Sash-Gah) in Kashmir with centuries old history.
“But my appeals, I think have failed to reach the ears of authorities concerned. When a number of projects in the state could be completed under double-shift work pattern, does the construction of such a revered place deserve to be delayed and stopped?” the Mirwaiz asked.