The J&K government on Thursday said that 208 temples in the state suffered damages during past two decades of militancy with Srinagar witnessing highest number of acts of vandalism.
“Of the 438 temples in the Valley, 208 had been damaged over the years,” the state government said in a written reply to the state assembly in response to the question by a BJP MLA.
According to the government, 57 temples were damaged in Srinagar, followed by south Kashmir's Anantnag district where 56 temples suffered damage.
The authorities, however, were silent on those who are responsible for the vandalism and the damage. It has not blamed the temple damages on the militants.
The government also clarified that there was no illegal encroachment of temple land in the valley. “A total of 63 hectares of land were under the 436 temples in the valley. There was no case of encroachment on these lands so far,” said the government.
Hundreds of Pandits left behind religious places and houses when militancy erupted in 1989 in Jammu and Kashmir and migrated to Jammu and other parts of the country. According to the government, 209 Pandits have been killed during the militancy in the state. The government said nearly 75% of the 1,234 structures in Srinagar district have been gutted. “In south Kashmir Kulgam district nearly 85% of the 754 structures have been damaged. “In Srinagar district...most of the migrants have sold their property,” the government said.
The government claimed that it has protected Pandit properties after the migration under the J&K Migrant Immovable Property Preservation, Protection and Restrain on Distress Sale Act 1997.
Sanjay Tickoo of Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti (KPSS), a body of Kashmiri Pandits disputed the government figures.
“Around 550 temples were damaged and 50,000 kanals have been encroached upon,” claimed Tickoo.