In the year 2010 the State Legislature passed the Jammu and Kashmir Heritage Conservation and Preservation Act for conservation and preservation of heritage. The act received the assent of the Governor on April 28, 2010. Immediately after that the government left no stone unturned in announcing that the heritage legislation will go a long way in conservation and preservation of both tangible and intangible heritage of Jammu and Kashmir.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir is unique in many ways. One of its unique feature is that the state comprises of three different and distinct division, which have a different culture, history and religious following.
The state offers a variety of cultural artefacts as the region is one of the few habitations in the world which has the oldest recorded history.
However, it is unfortunate that notwithstanding what has been accepted as the treasure of a nation, the state governments including the present dispensation have turned a blind eye towards the preservation of cultural heritage.
Pertinently, under Section 7 of the Act, the then Government even created J&K Heritage Conservation and Preservation Authority with Tourism and Culture Minister as its Chairman for the purpose of exercising powers and performing the functions assigned to it under this Act.
Even though few meetings of this Authority were convened (the last one was in February 2013), the exercise proved to be futile as no result has emerged from these meetings which the Authority has held so far.
Nobody demonstrates serious interest in implementing the provisions of the Act in right earnest. The Act gives many more powers to the Authority but there is no attempt at any level to make the rules implementable. There is every possibility of the manifestations of heritage getting destroyed and damaged because of no care.
J&K State has innumerable symbols of heritage in the shape of buildings, structures, monuments, precincts, artefacts, sculptures, paintings, handicrafts, manuscripts, music, dance, drama, performing acts, living traditions like crafts etc.
History of the Dogra rulers, the Sikhs, the Afghans, the Mughal, the Chaks, the Baihaqi Sayyids and the Shahmiris has left an indelible mark on the history of the state. These ruling houses also added to the cultural fund of the State and their contribution forms a part of our heritage, Hari Parbat reminds us the mythological story of killing the water demon and drying up of the valley to make it habitable.
The structure raised by Sultan Zainul Abidin in late 14th century, the monuments, gardens, caravanserais and forts and fortresses built by the Mughal, the bridges ordered by Afghan Governors and the temples repaired or renovated by the Sikh and Dogra rulers in different parts of the State are all part of heritage. Which nation is there in the world that does not find glory in its past?
However, it seems that all this is being lost and the posterity will not be able to even experience these cultural treasure troves.