Like the rest of the country, we in J&K State have innumerable symbols of heritage in the shape of buildings, structures, monuments, precincts, artifacts, sculptures, paintings, handicrafts, manuscripts, music, dance, drama, performing acts, living traditions like crafts etc. History of the rule of Dogra rulers over the State of Jammu and Kashmir is now 170 years old. At the time of partition it was just one century old. The Dogra rulers not only preserved the heritage that had came down to their times but also enriched it by adding so many items.
Prior to the Dogras, the Sikhs, the Afghans, the Mughal, the Chaks, the Baihaqi Sayyids and the Shahmiris ruled over it irrespective of the geographical territories that formed the kingdom of Kashmir in respective periods. 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?
We present the case of conservation of heritage both tangible and intangible in our State. In the year 2010 the State Legislature passed the Jammu and Kashmir Heritage Conservation and Preservation Act for conservation and preservation of heritage as described above. The Act received the assent of the Governor on April 28, 2010 and much hype was created over this legislation on the ground that it will go a long way in conservation and preservation of both tangible and intangible heritage.
However, it is unfortunate that notwithstanding what has been accepted as the treasure of a nation, our Governments including the Coalition Government of PDP and BJP have tuned blind eye to the concerned agencies violating the provisions of the Act. It has to be reminded that 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 three meetings of this Authority were convened—last in February 2013. This has been an exercise in futility as no result has emerged from three 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. That will be enormous loss to the society.
We, therefore beseech the Government authorities to take the matter of conservation and protection of heritage items with all seriousness. There are numerous things to be done besides making adequate allocations in the annual budget for this purpose. All that we want is that the Government should not waste a single day in streamlining the programme of accelerating work towards the fulfillment of the task assigned under the provisions of the Act.