Srinagar 05 Feb: While some parks in Kashmir are too much to talk about but some noteworthy parks are away from the limelight they deserve, one among them being Dr. Sir Mohammad Iqbal Park.
Located at the heart of city and once called as Hazuri Bagh has served different purposes decade after decade from 1900’s, “Maharaja Pratap Singh during his leisure time used to play polo here and specific Hindu religious people called as Nangdas used to stay in temporary shelters at Hazuri Bagh and finally returned for the pilgrimage (Amarnath Yatra)” says Ghulam Nabi Tanveer who is also famous by the name of local historian. But Iqbal Park has now elapsed from the memory of masses because of some incidents that surround this pre-militancy political stage.
Iqbal Park or known as Hazuri Bagh among locals has not only been a circus once but it has been the birthplace of many political activities before the militancy era in Kashmir, “It is the same place where Sheikh Abdullah handed over his political legacy to his son Farooq Abdullah” says Fehmeeda (local). Surprisingly Hazuri Bagh once has also been a Fruit Mandi signifying how it has served the locals and masses from political personalities to a local vegetable seller.
Though many beautiful events have surrounded this place but the transition of Hazuri Bagh to a park has been a blow to the budding local sportsmen who used it as a football and cricket turf thus making it good for nothing abode, “Youth from Batamaloo, Maharaja Bazar and Amira Kadal used to assemble here to engage themselves in sports activities and it gave many productive football players to the State and Iqbal Football Club was one of the club for which this park is famous” says Akhtar (a local).
“Soon after it was given the shape of a park, youth were no more allowed to play here thus destroying the hope of every budding sportsman” Akhtar adds.
Unfortunately due to the continuous changes from 1950’s Hazuri Bagh or presently known as Iqbal Park has lost its relevance among its own people due to the fact that its heritage was completely transformed which could have been a memory of our cultural history, “Hazuri Bagh once had a monumental building which consisted of green colored stones which was unfortunately demolished during the term of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad in 1956 and a bund was erected right from Tagore hall corner surrounding Maharaja Bazar and Hubchinar and some plantation was also done” says Tanveer.
Many initiatives were taken by the State Government for its modernization and ultimately after the final facelift it was technically handed over to J&K Bank who is now taking care of this monumental park which is named after the famous poet Sir Muhammad Iqbal who is renowned poet all over the world.
Though the continuous change in demographics has been one of the concern for which Iqbal Park has paid its price but there are other roguish events which has fuelled resentment among the locals and one among them is prevailing immorality, “there is no check-up by the authorities, it has become a hub of immorality and many times local people and especially Iqra Masjid Committee registered their protest before the government in written form but to this day no action came”.
Similarly a local shopkeeper (name withheld) says, “On Sundays I used to come here with my family before 7 years, that time people used to flock this place but it was in 2013 I preferred not to visit this park as it was mostly occupied by people who had no moral decency which you need to maintain in a public park”.
Once done with the issues which are fumbling around this abode locals want to restore the legacy of this forgotten testament by indulging in discussions and hangouts which was once the main qualities of this Hazuri Bagh or Iqbal Park.