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Remembering Sahastri Mukhi Lingam of Shilagram
D. K. Babu, Jammu

5th of March 1998 will be remembered as a mournful day of exiled Kashmiri Hindus in general and in particular for Hindus of Shilagram now popularly called `Shiligram' a hamlet within the Tehsil Phalagam, district Anantnag Kashmir. A rarest of rare Maha-Sahastri Mukhi Thousand eyed holy Shiv lingam was on this day destroyed in a bomb blast not reported by the Govt. nor prominently covered by the media. The self claimed "only Muslim Faithfuls of Allah", iconoclasts, moving freely in Kashmir to complete the unfinished agenda of Sikander-Butshikan, a muslim zealot of historical gory, then claimed the responsibility for this massacre. Historically "Maha-Sahastri Mukhi" Holy Lingum then escaped his cruel hands. It is said that many pious Kashmiri Pandits on their run to escape the death and mayhem let loose by this marauder in the 14th century, took shelter for some time in "Sahastri Mukhi" temple, prayed there and then left for Amarnath cave for penance to stop death and destruction of Hindus in Kashmir.

"Shilagram" or Shiligam was a quiet cosmic celestial sphere upon earth in description, a God's ultimate choice on the foot of Swami Amarnath Ji surrounded by snow decked mountains and a stream bringing nectar like waters from "Amravati" washing its hems. It was the abode of magnificient Holy "Sahastri Mukhi" Shiv Lingam with thousand eyes spread on its body-one of the rarest "Lingas" in India-with immense celestial glamours and charms, captivating the inner souls of worshippers coming from far corners of India, immediately transmitting essences of spiritual blissful rhymes to them. Because of this spiritual and religious importance, there is a mention of Lingam in a book on Raj Tarangani Volume-I, edition Ist, pages 177-178 by Thakur Ashar Singh where it is stated that the holy "Lingam" was installed thousands of years back. It was because of its immense value for being the rarest that the Govt. of J&K declared it as Antique piece under Antiquities and Art Treasuries Rule 1973 under Govt. Order No. ROA/119-KN/168/81 dated 3.8.1981 - Registered No. JKA-727.

This majestic graceful and soul soothing "Lingam" of Mahadeva gave this calm village on the main road leading to Swami Amarnath Ji its name as "Shilagram" later called Siligam and was one of the important Dhams (halting place) for Swami Amar Nath Ji yatrees from time immemorial. It was after having Darshan and prayers at this temple that the yatrees would march towards the abode of Mahadeva where Lord Shiva manifests in the form of ice "Lingam" in the cave, known as Shree Swami Amar Nath Ji. It was only after 1947 with the coming of so called secular popular Govt. at J&K state that due to the apathy of administrators that many customary events connected with the Hindu Holy pilgrimages, were allowed to lapse. The temple in which Lingam was installed was on 7 marlas of land containing revenue Khasra No. 347/6 and has attached to it a big piece of land margined by old Chinar and Popular trees having revenue record nos. 349/1-6, 350/2-16, 357/0-5 and 351/0-7. It was in the year 1983 that Muslim Fundamentalists started raising their heads in open to have Corner meetings in the villages to canvas and convert muslims to fundamentalism and infuse in their tempers the bigotry against Hindus and their religion and temples. Muslim Mullas started giving Futwas and administrators at the helm of administration started giving legal shape to change the names of villages having ancient Vedic names. In this charged scenario against Hindus, a conspiracy was hatched to grab the holy Hindu shrine along with land to convert it to a Muslim Mosque with a dubious machinations through the channels of J&K Wakf Act 1978. In a hush and dubious manoeuvrings, the temple and its land and large portions of public land was first marked as Wakf land and then its transfer and take over was approved in the cabinet and *SRO-702 dated 31-12-1984 got issued. The Wakf Judge in a follow up action issued notices to microscopic Hindu minority of village under the title of Chairman tehsil Aukaf Kashmir, Phalagam through Abdul Kabir Bhat V/S Bushan Lal s/o Sh. Gopi Nath R/o Siligam and others dated 4th July 1985 to vacate the land and temple to be handed over to Wakf. This struck terror in the microscopic Hindus of Siligam who then felt insecure to live in the village. The news spread far and wide amongst Hindus of Kashmir and a delegation with the woeful tale met the State Governor Sh. Jagmohan and a copy of memorandum was handed over to him. But the things had gone far beyond his power and as per the discriminative provisions enshrined in the Wakf Act no appeal against this transfer could lie in any court of law. The ramifications and designs of the enactment of the Wakf Act 1978, came to surface. It was found that under the cover of this Act large portions of public land throughout J&K was doled to Wakf Muslim boards, to raise huge immovable assets to guarantee regular incomes and with this Hindu community properties began to be usurped. With the active coopration of Kashmir "Devasthan Surakhsha Samiti" under the leadership of Late Sh. Amarnath Ji Ganjoo and his dedicated team, the Hindus of Siligam, where in I was one of the petitioners, moved the Court of Law and a writ-petition was filed by the learned Advocate, Late Sh. K. N. Raina against the constitutional validity of Wakf Act 1978 and the execution of transfer of sacred temple was got stopped by the order of Division bench of the Hon'ble High Court, comprising of Justice Sh. M. L. Bhat & Justice Sh. S. M. Rizvi vide no. 378 of 22.8.1985. Thus then a well conceived design to convert an ancient Holy temple was foiled, but under-currents in the Muslim fundamentalist movements were on increase and the sudden upsurge to annihilate everything which is Hindu and Indian came to open with guns and grenades in their hands. The temple and the historic shrines in Anantnag were raised to ground and some Hindu houses in the selected areas were burnt. The trumpet call from the Minarets of mosques became louder, for Kashmiri Hindus to leave Kashmir. Devasthan Surakhsha Samiti conveyed the forecasts of coming events to Central and State Govt. saying "with such growing and repeated incidents and consequent intimidation the Kashmiri Hindus have lost their attraction to live in the Valley, and there is a genuine and widespread feeling among them that all these activities of the antisocial elements are a bigger conspiracy to force the minority community of the Valley to resort to mass exodus, thereby facilitating, their ugly dream-come true". Later on we again said "that a blueprint to subject Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley to economic strangulation, political subjugation and cultural annihilation is reaching to its culmination and final kick to oust the Hindu community from their land of birth is in the offing". And finally this came true in the year 1989-90 when Kashmiri Hindu community were sent on forced exile leaving all its heritages, religious, cultural and personal, alongwith properties. The State Govt. was again same apathetic, unconcerned and callous towards Kashmiri Hindus and their left over sacred shrines like one of the rarest of rare "Sahastri Mukhi thousand eyed Lingam" at Siligam. Govt. had no mind to guard it and watch the elements who were out in 1984 to grab it. A tear is not shed on the hundreds of temples, Hindu shrines and its properties/lands in Kashmir grabed and destroyed; latest is the Holy Lingam at Siligam, striking a shock of gloom and mourning in the hearts of lakhs of Hindus in exilement. And outside J&K State, the Indian mind is set in delusion of mirage in Kashmir. Our Rashtrapita Mahatma Gandhi in 1947 saw a Ray of Light of secularism in Kashmir. But alas! the light now seen is that of the simmering embers from the burning bodies of Hindus and Sikhs who were brutally killed by the Muslim fundamentalist zealots let loose in Kashmir, to complete the unfinished agenda of Sikandar Butshikan. Destruction of Shilagram Lingam is one of such massacres, carried out in recent time, on which the ray of justice and Human Rights should penetrate.

The author is President of Kashmir Hindu Devaslhan Surakhsha Samiti.

Mailing Address : 510-Colonel Colony, Bohri Jammu-180005
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Views expressed by authors in Vitasta Annual Number are not necessarily of Kashmir Sabha, Kolkata.


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