The state government has declared the Border Security Force (BSF) camp inside Pari Mahal as “un-authorized occupation” and asserted that the camp would be reallocated soon.
A meeting held under the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir to discuss “unauthorized occupation” of Pari Mahal by BSF, a nationally protected monument, stated that presence of BSF camp has been hampering the renovation work of the monument.
According to the senior archaeologist and conservation assistant GRI, Archaeological Survey of India (Srinagar Circle), Pari Mahal is under “severe threat.
The senior archaeologist informed the meeting that “in absence of maintenance, regulation on walls has posed severe threat to the monument as the walls right from the main gateway comprising hamam, hall and library are on the verge of collapse and needs immediate repairs. The repairment cannot be taken up due to occupation of the site by forces.”
“The structure may suffer further damage or even collapse, if not repaired in toto,” the senior archaeologist told the meeting, which was chaired by Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan and was attended by Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar; Deputy Inspector General, BSF, Kashmir Frontier Headquarters, Srinagar; Staff Officer to Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Zone; Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, Srinagar Circle and Senior Conservation Assistant, ASI.
A Parliamentary Standing Committee of Tourism and Culture, who were on a visit to Pari Mahal recently, have also maintained that structural part of the monument should be got vacated immediately from the forces in order to take conservation work on priority basis.
Meanwhile, the Staff Officer representing the IGP, Kashmir told the meeting that “occupation” of Pari Mahal by BSF has been since 1990s for protection of the Raj Bhawan in the vicinity and “the security cover should continue for area domination.”
He told the meeting that the BSF camp has been assigned the responsibility of protecting all “dignitaries” residing around the Cheshmashahi garden.
However, he agreed that a balanced view may be obtained or an alternate nearby location may be provided to the BSF camp.
Seconding the view of Staff Officer, the Deputy Inspector General, BSF, Kashmir Frontier said the BSF camp at Pari Mahal does not comprise more than ten to twelve men.
The meeting has now decided to shift the BSF camp to a nearby location, which would be identified through a visit of IGP, Kashmir; Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar; Inspector General, BSF Kashmir Frontier Headquarters; Director Floriculture (Gardens & Parks); Conservator Forests, Urban Forestry Srinagar and Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, Srinagar.
The meeting has ordered that the spot visit would be made in the current week and the report would be “disseminated to this end within one week positively.”
Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Syed Abid Rasheed, who is also holding the charge of Vice- Chairman Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA), told the meeting that “the security cover should continue for area domination.”
“Yet the Centrally Protected Monument having national importance like Pari Mahal cannot be mistreated devoid of upkeep,” the DC Srinagar is said to have told the meeting.
He opined that conservation work should take place and in the process, administration should reach for alternate space for the BSF platoons in the form of pre-fabricated huts or FRP tents.