J-K LG Manoj Sinha inaugurates Shina Cultural Centre in Gurez

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Monday inaugurated the ‘Shinon Meeras’, the Shina Cultural Centre curated and developed by the Indian Army and Bandipora district administration.

In his address, Sinha congratulated the people of the Dard-Shina community and applauded the efforts of the Indian Army for this extraordinary initiative in ‘Amrit Kaal’.

“The centre is a unique tribute to preserve and promote the glorious artistic heritage of the Dard-Shina tribal community and to provide glimpses of its rich culture to the world. India’s first museum for Dardis traces the journey of Shina culture, languages and Gurezi way of life. I believe Shinon Meeras will become the centre of attraction for travellers visiting this best off-beat destination of India,” Sinha said.

Various sections of the museum will provide an opportunity for travellers, and historians to explore tangible and intangible art and a vibrant space for the community to tell their stories and showcase traditions, the LG added.

He appreciated the joint effort of the Army, district administration and the tourism department for acknowledging the immense contribution of the Dard-Shina community in nation-building.

The Army had partnered with reputed institutions in the country to build the museum. It has a mix of digital displays, exhibits, artefacts, textiles, interactive boards and various sections including Dardistan, the Kishanganga River, the Gurezi way of life, a language section, a symbiotic relationship with the Indian Army, souvenir section and AV room, an official spokesperson.

The sand art will display the operation ERAZE – Indian Army operation for the liberation of Gurez in 1948, he said.

An amphitheatre having a capacity of 150 people has been constructed on the banks of Kishanganga River for performances by the local cultural dance groups during weekends. The museum also has a website and a rich social media presence, the official said.

At the inaugural ceremony, Sinha shared the efforts of the UT Administration for the inclusive development of Gurez.

“Gurez has witnessed transformational changes in the last three years. Our dedicated focus was to strengthen physical infrastructure, ensure adequate skilled manpower and provide a conducive atmosphere for new business enterprises to flourish,” he said.

Our collective aim has been to convert today’s weakness into tomorrow’s strength, the LG said.

He also highlighted the new initiatives taken to tap the tourism potential of Gurez.

The tourism sector has witnessed a massive increase from 700-800 tourists a year to 35,000 this year till August 15. Today, the increased tourist influx to Gurez has strengthened the local economy and is providing large employment opportunities to the people.

Speaking on the power sector, the LG said the sector had remained a matter of great concern for the people of Gurez for decades.

We are working on war footing to strengthen the power infrastructure, The NHPC power project and work on the 33kV line has been expedited and work on infrastructure for interconnectivity between the villages has started, he added.

On the occasion, Sinha flagged off the Dawar-Drass-Darchik car rally connecting the Dard community of Gurez to Ladakh and unveiled a Shina Language Primer for promoting the use of Shina mother tongue amongst children of Gurez.

He also flagged off the Vajr Top Expedition by the Indian Army carrying the soil of Vajr Top as a contribution to ‘Meri Maati Mera Desh’.

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