A temple of Bhargshikha Devi located in Anantnag district of South Kashmir was vandalised on Wednesday by unidentified individuals. The temple is a part of the ancient Martand pilgrimage and is visited by thousands every year.
This is not an isolated incident. According to Jammu and Kashmir government, as many as 208 Hindu temples in the state were damaged during the past two decades by militants. However, Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti has rejected these figures, saying, “around 550 temples were damaged and 50,000 kanals have been encroached upon” since the Pandits were forced out of the valley by Islamists and separatists.
Most of these temples lie in South Kashmir. This part of the state has been at the centre of violent protests that erupted in the Kashmir Valley following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani. This area of Kashmir has been a fertile ground for militancy and seen lot of violence since Pakistan-sponsored and separatist-staged protests erupted.
On 24 April, militants killed ruling Peoples Democratic Party leader Abdul Gani. By some accounts, Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists are roaming freely in South Kashmir and enjoy widespread support from the local population. Therefore, it won’t be surprising if a future probe in this case points fingers at these organisations.
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