The Army in Kashmir is no longer restricting its role to military operations. The latest in its war “for hearts and minds” is the construction and renovation of Sufi ziyarats (shrines) and mosques across the Valley.
So when the Army talks of kills, arrests and recoveries, its counter-insurgency operations will now also include a new page in its report card:
• Construction of washing place for mosque in Safapora (north Kashmir): Rs 2 lakh.
• Construction of a public place at Ziyarat Kamil Sahib, Barsu (north Kashmir): Rs 8 lakh.
• Donation of solar lights to eight mosques in Warwan Valley (South Kashmir): Rs 2.40 lakh.
• Donation of solar lights to 12 mosques in Kandi (north Kashmir): Rs 3.60 lakh.
• Renovation of Bona Devsar mosque (South Kashmir): Rs 1.50 lakh.
• Construction of a boundary wall of Ziyarat at Larnoo (South Kashmir): Rs 0.50 lakh.
• Repairing of boundary wall of holy shrine Doot Reshi Baba at Arwah: Rs 2.90 lakh.
• Renovation of Ziyarat at Budgam (two phases): Rs 18 lakh.
• Renovation and construction of boundary wall of Katienwali mosque (north Kashmir): Rs 5 lakh.
• Construction of one bore well for mosque at Magray mullah Dragmulla (north Kashmir): Rs 4.20 lakh.
• Construction of two toilet blocks and eight bathrooms at Magra mosque Kupwara (north Kashmir): Rs 8.10 lakh.
“This effort is part of our Operation Sadbhavana. We wanted to send out a message that army is not just meant for war, it also provides help to people,” said Defence spokesman Lt. Col A K Mathur.
Although the Army stresses that the aim behind this move is only to help people, the material support for Sufi ziyarats has an underlying interest in the Sufi school of thought which the government believes is “more accommodative and apolitical”.
And when Governor Lt. Gen. S K Sinha inaugurated the renovated complex of Ziyarat Ayatullah Aga Syed Mehdi at Budgam, he said that though the Army is a secular institution and has respect for all religions, “We revere the Sufi strain of Islam, especially of the Reshi order in Kashmir”.
The Army put the cost of the entire project at Rs 18 lakh and termed the Ziyarat in Budgam, as a symbol of the “spirit of Kashmiriyat and tolerance of all faiths.”