Kashmiri pandits play down terror suspect’s links with temple

November 14th, 2008 - 7:21 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 14 (IANS) Kashmiri pandits living in and around Delhi Friday sought to play down Hindu seer and terror suspect Amritanand Dev Teerth’s links with a temple on the outskirts of the capital, saying the association was “purely religious”.Mata Chakreshwar Hari Parbat, eight kilometres from Delhi’s Badarpur border, “is the cultural and religious symbol of Kashmiri pandits in exile”, the Kashmiri Sewak Samaj, Faridabad, said in a statement.

The organisation denied the possibility of the arrested seer - who is also called Dayanand Pandey and is suspected to be linked to the Malegaon blast Sep 29 that killed six people - using the temple to meet terror suspects.

“The association with the arrested saint Amritanandji was purely from a religious denomination attached to the seer,” its statement said.

“We knew the seer as the Shankaracharya of the Sarvignya Peeth of Sarada. As a religious person he has been to our programmes and has sometimes stayed at the complex atop Chakreshwari temple at Hari Parbat,” M.L. Hashia, president of the organisation, said in the statement.

The temple is said to be a replica of the ancient Hari Parbat temple in Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir. “Therefore, Kashmiri pandits are emotionally and spiritually connected to the temple.”

The temple was searched Thursday. In particular, the room he stayed in during his visits was searched for evidence.

Speaking about the Kashmiri pandit community, Hashia said: “We are law abiding citizens of the nation and would expect the law to take its own course. However, we would expect that the community or the temple is not unnecessarily dragged and slurred because of this current unfortunate episode.”

Amritanand Dev Teerth, who is a National Defence Academy dropout, was arrested in Kanpur Wednesday by Maharashtra’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS). Pandey is reported to have admitted to knowing other Malegaon terror Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt Col Shrikant Purohit.

Pandey, who also went by the name Sudhakar Dwivedi, is said to have risen in the spiritual circles in the past few years and claims to have contacts with politicians and bureaucrats.

Around 400,000 Kashmiri pandits, who left behind their native land after militancy broke out in Jammu and Kashmir in 1989, live across India, mostly in Delhi.

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