Ancient idol of Maa Bhadrakali reinstalled in Handwara after 38 years

Idol of Maa Bhadrakali restored after a gap of 38 years – The first day of Navratra brought along with it some great news. The idol of Maa Bhadrakali has been restored at her original adobe in Handwara after a gap of 38 years, by Major General A.K. Singh. The Bhadrakali has great historical relevance in the valley. The idol was established way back in 1891. According to a legend, Maa Bhadrakali had appeared in a villager’s dream and asked him to shift the idol from Khanayar to the temple situated in Handwara district. In the turbulent days of 1981, the idol was stolen from the temple mysteriously. Even though the idol was recovered in 1983, the subsequent years saw the worst-ever exodus and ethnic cleansing in India’s history. The Kashmiri Pandits were driven out of Kashmir in order to formally establish Islamic supremacy in the valley. During the migration of the Kashmiri Pandits, the idol was kept with Pandit Jagannath. However, one of Maa Bhadrakali’s devotees, Bhushan Lal Pandita brought the idol to Jammu in 1990 to save it from the fury of the unruly Jehadis in the valley.

With the re-installation of Maa Bhadrakali idol in the Handwara District the current regime has sent out a strong message to the extremist elements in the valley. This is evidence of the fact that the valley is slowly coming out of the clutches of Islamic terrorism. The Kashmir valley can no longer be treated as a region where only those belonging to a particular community can thrive and prosper. Kashmiri Pandits have an equal right over the resources of the state as any other Kashmiri.

If the 1980s and 1990s had seen the worst form of attacks on the Kashmiri Pandits, the re-installation of the deity may ultimately culminate into much awaited comeback of the Pandits in the valley. It must be remembered that vandalism of Hindu temples in Kashmir was one of the means used by the Islamists in Kashmir to break the spirit of the Hindus in the valley. According to government estimates, 208 out of 436 temples have been vandalized or damaged in the last two decades. However, Sanjay Tickoo of the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti has disputed this figure and has claimed that around 550 temples have been vandalized in the period and more than 50,000 canals of area has been encroached upon.

It seems that the government has sent out a strong and clear message to the Jehadis in the valley. They can no longer treat the valley as the property of those belonging to the majority community in the region. The Kashmiri Pandits are the original inhabitants of the valley and they cannot be thrown out. Kashmiri Pandits have an equal right to live and thrive in the valley as any Kashmiri Muslim. In fact, given the kind of maltreatment that they have faced at the hands of the majority community and the apathy shown by the government for decades, the Kashmiri Pandits are entitled to special protection and treatment in the valley as compared to other Kashmiris. Desecration of temples and idols is one of the most underrated ways of repressing a community. Let us hope that with the re-installation of Maa Bhadrakali idol at her original abode the process of undoing the damage meted out by the Islamists in Kashmir would begin even if it cannot be totally undone.