By A. Aalim Ahmad
Bijbehara: Former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s grave inside Darashikoh Mughal garden has become the second highly fortified grave of any post-1947 Kashmir ruler after late Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah.
Abdullah’s grave is under tight police security at the banks of Dal Lake, few furlongs from Hazratbal shrine.
The authorities have fenced with linked chains an area of six kanals and 9 marlas of the famed garden with Mufti’s grave at the centre under the shade of 8 walnut and a huge chinar tree. The slice of land has been handed over to the department of floriculture after segregating it from Darashikoh garden managed by Jammu and Kashmir Bank since 2005.
A column of heavily armed policemen has been permanently posted on the side of the enclave. The tin-sheeted camp has been surrounded by sandbags to make it resistant to any bullet attack. A group of policemen from Jammu and Kashmir Armed Police is keeping vigil on a trickle of visitors who enter the enclave or glance from outside the fence.
“Normally we are 10 to 15 personnel inside the enclave for security. We are part of a large company that guards Mufti’s ancestral house, his grave, and a few minority pickets in the town and adjacent villages,” a policeman on duty informed Kashmir Reader.
Four employees of the floriculture department have been permanently shifted to oversee the planned growth of flowerbeds and evergreen plants around the grave.
“Yes, we have taken charge of the corner of the Darashikoh garden where Mufti sahib is buried. We are only doing some landscaping and have sown plants and flower beds,” Talat Parvez, director floriculture, said.
Sources said that initially it was decided to axe three of the eight walnut trees but a close relative of Mufti scuttled the plan.
Inside the main garden, a group of casual labourers was busy levelling the lawn run over by hundreds of vehicles since Mufti’s demise on January 7. Before the enclave was fenced and exclusive entrance from the riverside was established, vehicles were allowed to cross through the main lawn causing extensive damage to the turf and flowerbeds.
Sources said that Mufti had designed a luxurious guest house in the garden, which now lies adjacent to his grave. The guest house was constructed in record time with a huge investment and Mufti had plans to stay there when he was in his hometown. The inauguration was planned at January end.
Outside the fencing, a pathway is being built up to the entrance of the grave-enclave. “Earlier, this pathway was not in the embankment plan of the River Jhelum. After Mufti sahib was buried there, we have modified the plan. A major parking lot is also being constructed,” an official of the Irrigation and Flood Control department told Kashmir Reader.
“It is good that the enclave has been specified and cut-off from the main garden with a separate entrance. This will safeguard the main garden,” a gardener working on the turf said.
Sources said that it was a last-minute decision to bury Mufti Mohammad Sayeed inside the Darashikoh garden instead of his ancestral graveyard at the Baba Mohalla in Bijbehara.
No mausoleum has been built on Mufti’s grave and no plans have been revealed by People’s Democratic Party. Late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s mausoleum in Hazratbal is also highly fortified where a sprawling garden has been built. Abdullah died on September 8, 1982. His wife Begum Akbar Jahan was also buried in the same enclave in the year 2000.