Clashes in IHK after fire guts Muslim shrine
26 June, 2012
SRINAGAR: A major fire gutted a 200-year-old revered Sufi Muslim shrine in Indian-held Kashmir (IHK) on Monday, sparking clashes between police and residents in the capital, police said.
Nearly two-dozen people were injured in the violence, triggered by anger at the perceived delayed response of firefighters in battling the blaze. There was no immediate confirmation of the cause of the fire at the Peer Dastageer Sahib shrine, one of the most revered Sufi sites in IHK, which houses a relic of the 11th century Sufi saint, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jillani.
Witnesses noticed the fire in the upper floor on Monday morning and it quickly engulfed the wooden structure. "Ten policemen and an equal number of protesters have been injured in the clashes," senior police officer Shiv Murari Sahai told AFP.
The chief custodian of the shrine, Syed Khalid Hussein, said all relics, handwritten copies of the holy Quran and other sacred articles housed in the shrine were safe. But the main structure, a renowned example of Kashmiri architecture with ornate ceilings and elaborate carvings, was completely gutted.
Various separatist parties and religious groups called for a protest shutdown in the state today (Tuesday).