Bandipora, Aug 28: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha inaugurated the 'Shinon Meeras,' a distinguished cultural centre devoted to the Dard-Shin community. The centre, a collaborative effort of the Indian Army and District Administration, was hailed as an exceptional initiative by the Lt Governor.
During his address, Lt Governor Sinha extended his felicitations to the Dard-Shin community and lauded the Indian Army for spearheading this remarkable project. He emphasized the centre's role as a distinctive homage to the venerable artistic legacy of the Dard-Shin tribal community, as well as its function in offering the world a glimpse into their cultural opulence.
A landmark achievement, 'Shinon Meeras' stands as India's inaugural museum dedicated to the Dardis, chronicling the evolution of Shina culture, languages, and the Gurezi way of life.
Lt Governor Sinha expressed optimism that the cultural center would emerge as a focal point of interest for travellers exploring this captivating off-the-beaten-path destination in India.
“The museum boasts various segments that provide a platform for travellers and historians to delve into both tangible and intangible art. Furthermore, it serves as a vibrant canvas for the community to share their narratives and display their enduring traditions,” Lt Governor Sinha added.
Commending the concerted efforts of the Army, District Administration, and Tourism Department, Lt Governor Sinha underscored the significance of acknowledging the instrumental role played by the Dard-Shin community in the nation's progress.
Notably, the Army collaborated with esteemed national institutions in crafting the museum. The exhibit encompasses an amalgamation of digital presentations, artifacts, textiles, interactive panels, and diverse sections highlighting facets such as Dardistan, the Kishanganga River, the Gurezi way of life, language, the symbiotic alliance with the Indian Army, a souvenir collection, and an AV room. Of particular historical import, the Sand Art exhibit commemorates Operation ERAZE – the Indian Army's 1948 liberation operation in Gurez.
As an added cultural dimension, an Open Air Amphitheatre with a seating capacity for 150 has been erected along the Kishanganga River banks. It will host performances by local cultural dance groups on weekends. The museum also maintains a robust online presence through its website and social media platforms.
During the inaugural event, Lt Governor Sinha spotlighted the UT Administration's endeavours toward the comprehensive development of Gurez. He highlighted the profound changes witnessed in the region over the past three years, emphasizing the focus on fortifying infrastructure, nurturing skilled manpower, and fostering an environment conducive to burgeoning business ventures.
Lt Governor Sinha elucidated the surge in tourism activity in Gurez, with visitor numbers surging from a mere 700-800 annually to an impressive 35,000 by mid-August this year. This burgeoning tourist influx has not only invigorated the local economy but has also generated substantial employment prospects.
Discussing the power sector, Lt Governor Sinha recognized the historical concerns that have plagued the region for decades. He assured swift action in enhancing power infrastructure, expediting the NHPC power project, and initiating inter-village connectivity initiatives.
The Lt Governor disclosed the extension of the Kisan Sampark Abhiyaan by 15 days, urging officials to link more farmers from Gurez to this initiative.
As part of the day's engagements, Lt Governor Sinha initiated the Dawar-Drass-Darchik car rally, bridging the Dard community of Gurez with Ladakh. He also unveiled a Shina Language Primer to encourage the use of the Shina mother-tongue among Gurez's children.
Meanwhile, Sinha flagged-off the Vajr Top expedition led by the Indian Army, which carried soil from Vajr Top as a contribution to the 'Meri Maati Mera Desh' movement.
The inaugural ceremony witnessed the presence of prominent figures including Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi, GOC-in-C Northern Command; Lt Gen Rajiv Ghai, GOC 15 Corps; Dr Mandeep Kumar Bhandari, Principal Secretary to Lt Governor; Dr. Owais Ahmad, Deputy Commissioner Bandipora; senior Civil, Police, and Army officers; PRI representatives; members of the Tribal Community; students; and local residents.