After remaining closed for two decades since militancy erupted in Kashmir valley, a famous Shiva temple here reopened on Wednesday with a special puja marking the ‘Basant Panchami’

Non-migrant Kashmiri pandits assembled at Shetaleshwar Bhairav temple at Sheetal Nath locality in old part of Srinagar town and performed the puja.

T.N. Ganjoo, chairman of Kashmiri Pandit Sangarash Samiti, an organisation of non-migrant Pandits, said they chose the ’Basant Panchami’ for the reopening of the temple to restore its past glory.

“The Shiva lingam in the temple is intact, thanks to a Kashmiri Muslim caretaker Ghulam Mohammad. The reopening of the temple is a glaring example of communal harmony and we have decided to involve the Muslim community and use the premises for reconciliation,” Samiti president Sanjay K. Tickoo said.

The temple was closed in the early 90s following the migration of Pandits from the valley in the wake of militancy.

Over the past decade, a number of Hindu shrines have been reopened across the valley with Muslims playing a key role.

Mr. Tickoo said the premises of the temple will be utilized for reconciliation and “further strengthen our bonds with majority community.”

Around 17,000 pandits stayed back in Kashmir after the community migrated in 1990 in the wake of eruption of militancy but now only around 3,000 are living in the valley, Mr. Tickoo said.

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