Vandalizing Heritage

Zaina Kadal is the new target. God save us!

Politically patronized vandals are again on prowl and this time their target is historical heritage landmark—Zaina Kadal, a bridge over river Jhelum dedicated to one of the great kings of Kashmir—Zain-Ul-Abideen (BadShah). A nation is known by its language, culture and heritage. Linguistically we have turned inferior; our language abandoned by its own people and facing apathy at the hands of rulers is almost at the verge of collapse.  Considerable portions of our linguistic and cultural turf have already turned barren and only hope for its revival lies within our once ‘fertile mind’—Tar Dimaag. (Aah! Yeh Qoum Najeeb O Charb Dast O Tar Dimaag——-Allam Iqbal). Our Heritage, manifestation of creative skill (Charb Dast) of our forefathers is the latest victim of our materialistic urge and vandalistic approach. Kashmir and its people, since ages have faced extreme cruelty and abject poverty, but their culture, language and heritage was least intruded. But, for now we have turned crazy; out to destroy our identity as a distinct nation.  To cut a long but interesting story of self annihilation shorter, let me come to the point.
Zaina Kadal, in recent past was proposed to be part of an ambitious project showcasing ‘Nagar Nagar’ the heritage city of Srinagar and is one of the prominent historical heritage structures in Srinagar. Heritage sites and structures of Srinagar became victim of not only vandals but over the period of time government apathy played a greater role in decimating a substantial portion of our heritage wealth. It started with choking the jugular vein of Srinagar’s intricate water system—Nalla Mar. Then in eighties ‘Core Area Development Project’ tampered virginity of Srinagar. Lanes, by-lanes and alleys of city got destroyed with layers and layers of tar and cement concrete making passage for vandals. Now, deafening machines and dozers are crawling freely over Ghani Kashmiri’s historic city, where once prayers and poetry were the only solace to receptive Kashmiri sense of hearing.
Within civilized societies emancipation and added knowledge makes people wiser and dedicated but in our case it proved counterproductive; we became self-centered materialists with arrogance visible in our behavior. With the advent of peoples’ rule our political system, which was supposed to change for the best, got plagued with opportunism, giving way to all sorts of corruption. Ah! In broad day light a bridge, that too, a historic bridge, landmark of heritage gets converted into an assortment of shanty shop line. Regulating authorities from Srinagar Municipal Council to Srinagar Development Authority sleep over the issue and no one took cognizance of this gross violation.  Where were these, otherwise, obsessive agencies; in deep slumber, or just listening to ‘HIS MASTER’S selective VOICES’? In this contemporary era of knowledge, authorities resorting to such bizarre acts of so-called rehabilitation make no sense. What message they want to convey to heritage lovers, world over? Such acts will leave us far behind the world’s most ignorant lot, leave alone the progressive ones. At the moment we as a nation have every right to ask those self-proclaimed champions of heritage in Kashmir; what are they waiting for? Basking in the sunny and greener pastures of power across the tunnel, devising plans to have their share of the cake!
The genesis of this whole episode of brazen vandalism lies in our rotten political system [not any particular political party] having shoddy, manipulative and dominating relationship with its civil servants. Political considerations with ulterior motive of safeguarding political constituencies have ruined the culture of excellent and honest governance. And, Zaina Kadal encroachment incident is result of deteriorating relationship between political system and the executive. Sidelining rules and flouting regulations through cronies is the time tested modus operandi of political class. This unjustified criminal act of destroying Kashmiri culture and heritage is unpardonable and no civilized society will allow such tampering with their Heritage. Hope better sense will prevail and stink of nefarious objectives of few with ascending diffusion to the higher echelons of political power will make authorities to reconsider this Himalayan blunder.

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