Chota Amarnath Cave Shrine Opened
28 August 2007
Srinagar: Touching moments were witnessed at Thajiwara (Bijbehera) in South Kashmir on Tuesday when local Muslims and Kashmiri Pandits, who had migrated, met after 18 years on the eve of the re-opening of the Chota Amaranth cave in the village. Hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits, who came from Jammu, were joined by local Muslims and Pandits from Anantnag and Pulwama areas. The cave temple of Lord Shiva was thrown open under the aegis of Devesthan Prabandak Committee (DPC), Bijbehera, which had initiated the revival with the help of locals sometime ago. The Pandits offered prayers and exchanged pleasantries with the Muslims. 'It is a peace process of a different kind but the most effective one to the extent that local Muslims have been extending full cooperation to the Kashmiri Pandits,' said Vijay Malla, a journalist from the area, now based in Jammu. 'This will help us rebuild the relations with our Muslim brethren,' said DPC secretary M.L. Tickoo. Narul Amin, a resident of the area, expressed happiness while welcoming a group of Kashmiri Pandits visiting the shrine for the first time after it was closed. He said: 'We miss our Pandit brethren. We may not be living together in the area but we still maintain cordial relations and our bond remains the same.' 'We were preparing for this historic day for the past several weeks,' said another resident Javed Ahmad. Pyariji, wife of poet and writer Mohan Lal Ash of Bijbehera, met the local people with whom their family stayed before they migrated during the peak of militancy. Senior PDP leader and Bijbehara MLA Abdur Rehman Veeri said: 'It is a touching moment for all of us.' It is the best platform for strengthening amity between the two communities. Mr. Veeri played an important role in persuading the Pandits to return and reopen the temple.