Shrine Maintenance and Security

Shrine Maintenance and Security
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It is not the first time that a prominent shrine of/in Kashmir has been beset by either natural or manmade problems. It may be recalled a few years ago, the Dastgeer Sahib shrine got completely burnt down and now , the great Sufi shrine of Mir Sayyed Hamadani or Khanqah Maulla. Despite this, the two bellwether shrines of Kashmir which reflect the essence and advent of Islam in Kashmir, remain vulnerable. The structures on which Kashmir’s Sufi shrines are erected upon are very old ones that, to be fair, remain vulnerable. However, in this day and age, modern gadgetry and wherewithal is available to actually pre-empt and prevent damage to these structures. But, till date, no such gadgets and measures have been installed or taken. This, among other things, reflects apathy and indifference to the safety and maintenance of our Sufi shrines. While these shrines are often times used as political platforms – historically and contemporarily- , not much energy is spent on the security of their structures. This is a tragedy not only because of a clear and present danger to the shrines and their structures but it also reflects cavalier carelessness on our part. Respectful devotion to these shrines should not only mean offering namaz and dua within the compounds of these shrines but also both top- down and bottoms up efforts at the maintenance and security of these. What could this mean in practice? First, the governing bodies of Kashmir’s shrines should take pre-emptive and precautionary measures, other than mere fiddling and tinkering- that actually fore see and then forestall potential damage to these structures. (If this warrants more monies, then these should be raised from the public and then employed for the shrines). Second, basic security measures like fire extinguishers, installing a help line which can be activated the moment something happens and which allows immediate mobilization of people and other resources to stave off emergencies must be built in the structural management of the shrines of Kashmir. Third, the maintenance of shrines must be regularly updated. If the resources, in terms of manpower, are unavailable for this, then young people can be mobilized for voluntary service at the shrines. Last , but not the least, the idea of community service for the maintenance and upkeep of our Sufi shrines. In combination, these measures can pre-empt or minimize damage to Kashmir’s Sufi shrines when and if disaster strikes. We must bear in mind and imbibe an expansive notion of devotion which actually would mean, wading out of our comfort zones and imbuing safety, cleanliness, security and even making our shrines shine out as the architectural wonders they are.

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