Distorting historical landmarks: Is it DD News brand secularism being preached on supposedly official television channel?
 BLUNT BUTCHER
JAMMU: Is it a deliberate attempt by Doordarshan to join radicalised brigade in erasing Hindu imprints in Kashmir by renaming historical places? In its report the other day, Sakal Bhatt, a controversial news anchor of Doordarshan, named at least three times the famous Shankracharaya Hill as Koh-e-Suleman. Since eruption of militancy in nineties, radicals have taken extra pains in changing the historical contours of landmarks in Kashmir and the Shankracharaya and Hari Prabhat has become their first target. While Shankracharaya Hill is being named as Koh-e-Suleman, the famous Hari Parbhat hillock is called KIoh-e-Maraan. Sakal Bhatt and her editorial board in Doordarshan News, therefore, thought it prudent to oblige fanatics while reporting lodging of evacuated residents on the hillock from flood hit localities. Is this DD News brand secularism that is preached on supposedly official television channel?
Sakal Bhatt got entangled into a huge controversy in 2012 when appointments of 25 Doordarshan News anchors and correspondents were quashed by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), which had ruled that “irregularities” were committed in the selection process in order to help certain candidates. She is among dozens of media persons covering Kashmir floods for various national television channels. It is intriguing how her editors allowed the report to go on air with rechristened name of Shankracharaya Hill as Koh-e Suleman. This issue has already raised passion in and outside Kashmir with exiled Kashmiri Pandits taking offense of erasing their imprints. Such was the magnitude of controversy that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had to clarify that there was no such proposal either with Jammu and Kashmir Government or Archeological Survey of India to rename the historical hillock having religious significance for Hindus.
On 16th March this year, Omar Abdullah wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter, “Let me be as clear as I can – there is NO, repeat NO proposal by the state to change the name of Shankracharaya Hill in Srinagar,” adding “I had wanted to stay out of this discussion since it was based on the figments of some very active imaginations but no such luck.” He went on saying further that from the conversations with ASI, he had ascertained that there was no such proposal with them and therefore, “I have no idea why the rumour”. If a Chief Minister of a state describes remaining or rechristening the name of Shankracharaya as Koh-e-Suleman as a rumour, how come Doordarshan fall in the trap of radicals like Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Yasin Malik.
Of course, Prasar Bharti is an autonomous body but still Doordarshan is considered as a medium to preserve rich and diverse cultural heritage of India. At least, the news channel is not expected to distort the facts and that too at the instigation of the enemies of nation and India’s pluralistic ethos.
Doordarshan bosses are expected to peep into the history and find out the facts about places, which they conveniently tend to distort. A browse on Google will give them an idea of Shankracharaya. The temple dates back to 200 BC, although the present structure probably dates back to the 9th century AD. It was visited by Shankracharaya and has ever since been associated with him; this is how the temple got the name Shankracharaya. It is also regarded as sacred by Buddhists. The Shiv ling was placed inside during the Sikh period in nineteenth century and it became an active Hindu temple when regular services were conducted. Some historians report that the Temple was actually a Buddhist temple during Buddhist era which was then changed into Hindu site of worship by Adi Shankracharaya.
According to Pandit Anand Koul (1924) the temple was originally built by “Sandiman” (unknown) who, according to Koul, reigned in Kashmir from 2629 to 2564 BC. It was repaired by King Gopaditya (426-365 BC) and by King Lalitaditya (697-734). Its roof was also repaired by Zain-ul-Abidin after an earthquake; later, its dome was repaired by Sheikh Ghulam Mohiuddin, a Governor of Sikh Empire (1841-1846).
This being the historical position, how come Sakal Bhatt or Doordarshan distort the famous landmark of paradise, currently reeling under flood havoc, perhaps to appease anti-national elements or to create further wedge between the two communities?