One has to learn tolerance from Sikhs especially the religious if the news report is correct that the community in Kashmir has agreed to the demolition of a 72-year-old gurudwara to make way for a national highway connecting Srinagar with Baramulla which had been stuck for over a decade. Established in 1947, Gurudwara Damdama Sahib mainly served migrant families from Pakistan. It organised langars and undertook many social service initiatives such as flood rescue. The gurudwara was one of four bottlenecks in the road project, most parts of which were completed in 2013. Further, a litigation in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had kept the matter related to the relocation of the gurudwara lingering for years. Srinagar Deputy Commissioner Shahid Iqbal Choudhary swung into action to break the deadlock and personally intervened in the discussion process. He reached out to the Sikh community to devise an amicable solution to the issue. Choudhary held a series of meetings over the past week to examine a range of options to resolve the issue. According to a settlement reached between the Sikh community and the Srinagar district administration, a new gurudwara will be built at an alternative site nearby and will function from a makeshift space till a new one is constructed at the agreed location. Government of India started construction of the national highway from Srinagar to Baramulla in 2006. Later, the project was funded under the Prime Minister’s Development Plan. The stretch of the road where the gurudwara stood was executed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), while the Anantnag-Srinagar section was constructed by the National Highways Authority of India. The road was completed in 2013, but the four bottlenecks remained. “The act and gesture of the Sikh community here has created a history in Kashmir and will be remembered for every,” Deputy Commissioner Choudhary said.
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