STATE TIMES NEWS JAMMU: Jammu and Kashmir Study Centre (JKSC) organised a seminar on ‘Sharda Civilization: A Cultural and Historic Perspective’ at the William Barry Theatre, West London University. JKSC (UK) is linked to its parent organisation which is an independent and objective think-tank dedicated to the study of Jammu and Kashmir in its entirety. It was established in 2011 to undertake policy relevant studies on all aspects of the strategically important state of India and to disseminate the outcome of the same in the correct perspective in public domain. The seminar had a distinguished panel of speakers from various global locations including London, New York, New Delhi and Singapore. Vinod Tikoo, a JKSC volunteer facilitated the seminar and outlined the key purpose of the seminar viz., to inform and educate the audience from the subcontinent, listeners in the UK and global diaspora of relevance and cultural significance of Sharda Peeth. The seminar was held with an aim to raise awareness on civil society efforts towards preservation and restoration of the centre and initiatives to restart the exchange and opening of the pilgrimage route to Sharda for devotees. The proceedings began by lighting of Diyas in reverence to Sharda Devi, by the strong ladies from the Jammu and Kashmir region present at the seminar including Faria Attique, Urmila Kaul, Manu Khajuria, Shafalica Bhan Kotwal and Anupama Handoo. Ravinder Pandita, Convener of Save Sharda Committee who has been making tireless efforts in this direction for last few years, spoke about the civil society initiatives on both sides of the border and government to government dialogue on opening the pilgrimage route to Sharda, using the existing cross LoC permit mechanism. A short video produced by Save Sharda Committee was also broadcast to the audience at the seminar. Rakesh K Kaul, Author, The Last Queen of Kashmir, spoke on the historical and academic background of Sharda Peeth. An academic assessment was undertaken on the role of Sharda in shaping languages as well as the present-day Mutt systems in the subcontinent by Sridhar Chityala, Trustee Shingeri Sharda Mutt NA and Dr S.S Toshkhani. Speakers also included Sajjad Raja and Faria Attique, civil society activists from PoK based in London, who spoke on how Sharda was the common cultural heritage of all people from the State of J&K on both sides of the border. Dr Gautam Sen spoke about the academic relevance of Sharda in the context of Taxila and Nalanda as the great trilogy of academic centres of excellence in the sub-continent. The seminar concluded with a joint declaration on urging administration in Pakistan for preservation and restoration of the Sharda Temple complex and reviving the ancient Sharda Peeth Yatra similar on the lines of the current Kartarpur corridor.
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