To make way for a national highway connecting the Srinagar-Baramulla road, the 72-year-old Gurudwara, known as Gurdwara Damdama Sahib will be demolished following an understanding between the gurdwara management and the Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar.
The construction of the national highway, which had been stuck for over a decade, got a green signal from the Sikh community after a series of meetings during the last one week and examining a host of options to resolve the issue.
Both sides arrived at an agreement, which includes alternate land and reconstruction of the gurdwara at a nearby land finalised by the Deputy Commissioner in consultation with the Sikh community. It was more of the strategic resolution than compensation. The community elders and the management of gurdwara Damdama Sahib agreed to the offer of the Deputy Commissioner.
The gurdwara sheltered flood and earthquake victims
The gurdwara, established in 1947 and located along the Srinagar-Baramulla road, served migrant families from Pakistan and remained a place to halt not only for the Sikhs but people of all faiths. It organised langars (community kitchens) and social service initiatives. It also sheltered flood and earthquake victims.
In 2006, the government started construction of a national highway from Srinagar to Baramulla. Several utilities and structures remained bottlenecks under the highway alignment. The Srinagar-Baramulla stretch is executed by the Border Roads Organisation while Anantnag-Srinagar part is done by the NHAI.
The road was completed in 2013. However, due to litigation in the High Court, four bottlenecks remained. These included the gurdwara, a power line, a petrol filling station and water supply lines. A landowner whose land was proposed for relocation of gurdwara objected to it and obtained a stay in 2014. Ever since then, the landowner, the gurdwara committee, Collector land acquisition and the government have been locked in litigation.
Finally, on Thursday, the gurdwara started making way for construction of the national highway after successful talks between the gurdwara management and Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary.
On Thursday, in the presence of the Deputy Commissioner and gurdwara management members, the demolition of the gurdwara began. The gurdwara will now function from a makeshift space till a new gurdwara is reconstructed at the agreed location. The state PWD has been entrusted with construction of the gurdwara as per the design provided by the Sikh Sangat.
The Sikh community deserves praise, isn't it?
(With IANS inputs)