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Muslims preserve Hindu temple in Kashmir

A move toward brotherhood and religious harmony

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Mushtaq Ahmad Sheikh sweeps the Shiva temple in Payar, a village in southern Kashmir Source: Benarnews

In a rare display of inter-communal harmony, Muslims in a southern Kashmiri village have been taking care of a centuries-old temple since an insurgency forced the resident Hindu population out more than two decades ago.

Mushtaq Ahmad Sheikh and some fellow Muslims are the ones who safeguarding and keeping up the Shiva temple in his native Payer. The village in Pulwama district lies some 45 km (28 miles) from Srinagar.

Sheikh and other Muslims sweep the temple clean almost every day. Even back in the 1990s, when the regional insurgency was at its peak and militants targeted temples, Sheikh said he and others protected and preserved the structure.

It reveres Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction.

“I honor the temple as much as I do the mosque,” Sheikh, a government employee and caretaker of the Shiva temple, told BenarNews.

Payer Temple Source: Twitter
Payer Temple
Source: Twitter

Pulwama is considered a hotbed of militancy. The district accounted for much violence at the height of the insurgency, which goes on today. Kashmir has been the focus of a decades-old dispute between India and Pakistan, which both have territorial claims over the Himalayan region.

“I’m here to ensure its protection and upkeep even if our Pandit brothers are living outside the state for over past two decades,” Sheikh said, referring to local Hindus who were uprooted by inter-communal bloodshed.

“Even during the worst of times, when temples were randomly vandalized by miscreants, with the active support from my neighbors, I ensured there was no damage to the temple,” he added.

Related article: A toast to communal harmony: Bihar Muslims donate land for world’s largest Hindu temple

According to official data, 208 temples have been damaged or burnt over the past two decades of insurgency in Kashmir.

Last December, the well-known Jwalaji temple in Pampore, a town in Pulwama, was gutted under mysterious circumstances.

Happy Pandits

According to local residents, Pandits, most of whom now live outside Muslim-majority Kashmir, occasionally come to the temple in Payar to worship, and they go home happy and satisfied because it is maintained so meticulously.

Famous saffron feild of Pulwama
Famous saffron feild of Pulwama

“Although no Pandit family has lived in this village for more than 20 years, the minority community members, especially from south Kashmir, occasionally come here,” Bashir Ahmad Sheikh, a retired government official from Payar, told BenarNews.

Domestic and foreign tourists also visit the site quite often, he said, because the temple is famous for its elegant architecture and engraved figurines of Shiva.

“They come here and show lot of interest in learning about its history,” he added.

Challenging task

The maintenance and protection of the temple, situated on the roadside near a rivulet, had been a challenging task until the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) fenced it from all four sides in 2002.

“Before that, it was increasingly difficult to prevent stray dogs and livestock from entering the premises. Now its main gate remains closed and nobody is allowed to visit the temple without permission,” local shopkeeper Altaf Ahmad Mir said.

During unrest that rocked Kashmir in the summer of 2010, a group of youths clashed with security forces near the temple, but village elders managed to prevent them from damaging or desecrating the religious site.

“In the 1990s, a period when temples were increasingly targeted by miscreants, groups of locals took turns to guard the temple day and night,” Mir told BenarNews.

‘No discrimination between mosque and temple’

Members of the minority Pandit community praise the work and devotion shown by the Muslim villagers in keeping up and protecting the temple to Shiva.

“Our Muslim brethren never discriminated between mosque and the temple. They have safeguarded the temple like their own place of worship all these years,” Avtar Krishan, a retired lecturer from Pulwama, who now lives in Jammu – the predominantly Hindu portion of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir – told BenarNews.

“Protection of the temple, even during the turbulent times, sends a strong message to the world community that Muslims and Pandits lived like brothers until the insurgency forced the minority community members to flee,” he added.

Anil Kumar, a pharmacist from Anantnag district, echoed Krishan’s views.

“Kashmiris are well-known for their religious harmony and hospitality,” he told BenarNews.

“And our Muslim brothers have demonstrated that tradition by protecting the temple from miscreants’ attacks repeatedly.”(BenarNews)

  • Pritam Go Green

    Other Muslims need to learn from these people. We all are first of all humans .After that religion comes .So, irrespective of all our dissimilarities we all should respect each other cultural diversities.

  • Shubhi Mangla

    Hope it helps to strengthen communal harmony

  • Pashchiema Bhatia

    Glad to know that at least somewhere Muslims are showing reverence to Hindu religion. Humanity is way beyond religious bigotry. Hope the Hindu extremists and jihadis get to learn something from it

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  • Pritam Go Green

    Other Muslims need to learn from these people. We all are first of all humans .After that religion comes .So, irrespective of all our dissimilarities we all should respect each other cultural diversities.

  • Shubhi Mangla

    Hope it helps to strengthen communal harmony

  • Pashchiema Bhatia

    Glad to know that at least somewhere Muslims are showing reverence to Hindu religion. Humanity is way beyond religious bigotry. Hope the Hindu extremists and jihadis get to learn something from it

Next Story

Hackers Target 1 Indian Firm Over 1,500 Times a Week

Misconfiguration of cloud resources is still the number one cause for Cloud attacks, but now we also witness an increasing number of attacks aimed directly at Cloud service providers

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Bharat Bhise HNA, Hacker, Business
Hackers have the power to bring down your website or your entire network if they so wish. Pixabay

A single organisation in India was attacked an alarming 1,565 times per week on average in the past six months, compared to 474 attacks by hackers per organisation globally, says a new report.

According to researchers at Israeli cybersecurity firm Check Point Research, 93 per cent of malicious files in India were delivered via the web, compared to 35 per cent of malicious files globally.

The most common vulnerability exploit type in India is information disclosure, impacting 64 per cent of the organisations and the top malware in India is “XMRig” that impacts 17 per cent of firms, said Check Point’s ‘2020 Cyber Security’ report.

“2019 presented a complex threat landscape where nation states, cybercrime organisations and private contractors accelerated the cyber arms race, elevating each other’s capabilities at an alarming pace, and this will continue into 2020,” said Lotem Finkelsteen, Threat Intelligence Group Manager, Check Point Software Technologies.

It is pertinent to note that cryptominers still dominate malware landscape.

Even though cryptomining declined during 2019, linked to cryptocurrencies’ fall in value and the closure of the Coinhive operation in March, 38 per cent of companies globally were impacted by crypto-miners in 2019, up from 37 per cent in 2018.

This is because the use of crypto-miners remains a low-risk, high-reward activity for criminals.

“Detecting and automatically blocking the attack at an early stage can prevent damage. Check Point’s 2020 Security Report shares what organisations need to look out for, and how they can win the war against cyber attacks through key best practices,” Finkelsteen added.

Twenty eight per cent of organisations globally were hit by botnet activity, an increase of over 50 per cent compared with 2018.

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FILE – In 2010, the Stuxnet virus disrupted operation of centrifuges at a uranium enrichment facility in Iran. VOA

Emotet was the most common bot malware used, primarily because of its versatility in enabling malware and spam distribution services. Other botnet actions such as sextortion email activity and DDoS attacks also rose sharply in 2019.

While the number of impacted organisations is relatively low, the severity of the attack is much higher — as seen in 2019’s damaging attacks against US city administrations.

Criminals are choosing their ransomware targets carefully, with the aim of extorting the maximum revenue possible.

Notably, 27 per cent of organisations worldwide were impacted by cyberattacks that involved mobile devices in 2019, down from 33 per cent in 2018.

While the mobile threat landscape is maturing, organisations are also increasingly aware of the threat, and are deploying more protection on mobiles.

Currently, more than 90 per cent of enterprises use Cloud services and yet 67 per cent of security teams complain about the lack of visibility into their Cloud infrastructure, security, and compliance.

The magnitude of Cloud attacks and breaches has continued to grow in 2019.

Also Read: 84% Indians Hope to Retain Their Jobs Despite Automation: WEF

Misconfiguration of cloud resources is still the number one cause for Cloud attacks, but now we also witness an increasing number of attacks aimed directly at Cloud service providers.

“Even if an organisation is equipped with the most comprehensive, state-of-the-art security products, the risk of being breached cannot be completely eliminated. Beyond detection and remediation, organizations need to adopt a proactive plan to stay ahead of cybercriminals and prevent attacks,” explained Finkelsteen. (IANS)