Government began constructing eminent poet Ahad Zargar’s tomb at Narwour area of downtown Srinagar in last year but left it midway four months back, Ahad Zargar Memorial Research Foundation said on Wednesday.
The Foundation not only expressed anguish over the delayed construction, but accused the government of “playing a conspiracy against Sufism” by not making the poet’s grave visible.
The Foundation had earlier constructed a mausoleum. The government last year decided to reconstruct it and develop it as a heritage tourism site.
Khursheed Zargar, patron of the Foundation, said, “It was the government’s decision. The construction has been stopped for the past four months. The site of the grave is closed. It is an irony.”
Khursheed questioned the government’s intention vis-à-vis Ahad Zargar’s grave. “There is only a concrete slab and some iron pieces visible, [not the gravestone],” he said, accusing the government of “unleashed an onslaught on Sufism to destroy it”.
Khursheed said the construction was halted when uprising began after militant commander Burhan Wani’s killing in July last year. It was later resumed but stopped against in March this year “for the reasons best known to the tourism department”.
“The construction was not taken seriously later,” he said. “The tourism department does not know the importance of such places.”
Expressing dismay, he said he visited the tourism director to raise the concern but to no avail.
“He misbehaved with me and told me that he did a favour by beginning the construction. The grave is Kashmir’s identity. If it is an act of kindness for us then [the government’s approach] is unacceptable,” he said.
The Foundation’s patron appealed to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to dismantle the structure and reshape it into its original shape. “We will construct it with our own hands. Earlier the tomb was constructed and decorated by the Research Foundation with a good design,” he said.
“Despite government’s claim of beautifying the heritage sites the work has been left apart. In August, the tourism department said the structure would be completed but all in vain,” he said.
Director Tourism, Mahmood Ahmad Shah, said the department has intervened in the matter. “We will complete the project this year,” he said.
Shah said he will enquire about the delay. “I will seek a report [from the concerned executive engineer] about the status of the work at the mausoleum site and about the delay,” he said.