March 25, 2019
New Delhi/Srinagar: The opening of the Sharda Peeth corridor across the Line of Congrol (Loc) in Jammu and Kashmir can “help navigate” the current India-Pakistan impasse, former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Monday.
“Not too long ago I had written to PM (Narendra Modi) imploring GoI to reopen Sharda Peeth, a temple across LoC for Kash(miri) Pandits. An initiative like this at a time when Indo-Pak tensions are at an all time high could help navigate the current impasse,” she said in a tweet in response to reports from across the border that Pakistan might soon greenlight the opening of the corridor.
Sources said the Indian government had made the request several times for opening of the corridor – a long-standing demand of Kashmiri Pandits, for whom the Sharda Peeth temple is one of the holiest religious places – as part of the Composite Dialogue between India and Pakistan.
The proposal was made keeping in mind the wishes and the religious sentiments of the people, they said.
The ancient temple of Sharda and the adjacent ruins of Sharda University lie in the Neelam Valley, about 160 km from Muzaffarabad across the LoC in a small village called Shardi or Sardi, where the river Neelam, known as Kishenganga on the Indian side, converges with the Madhumati and Sargun streams.
Maa Sharda is considered to be the principal deity by Kashmiri Pandits.
The temple, built around 5,000 years ago, is near the university built by Emperor Ashoka in 237 BC.
The temple was also once regarded as the foremost centre of higher learning in the sub-continent.
It is one of the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas, or Grand Shakti Peethas and is considered to be the abode of Hindu Goddess Saraswati.
The talks to open the corridor had started alongside negotiations for Kartarpur Corridor in Punjab, informed sources said in Srinagar.