Sufi shrine in Srinagar
Local residents try to extinguish a fire that broke out at a Sufi shrine in Srinagar June 25, 2012.Reuters

The National Commission for Minorities on Monday expressed deep sorrow over the horrific fire accident which destroyed the 200-year-old Sufi shrine of Peer Dastgir Sahib in Srinagar last week.

The Sufi shrine, which is a monument of prime religious and historical significance in Srinagar, was gutted in a major fire last Monday.  

The commission has urged the State government of Jammu & Kashmir to institute adequate measures for protection of shrines of historical importance, all of which have wooden structures.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said that the destroyed Sufi shrine will be restored to its pristine structure within two-and-a-half years.

Omar on Sunday assured Imams (prayer leaders) and Khateebs (preachers) in Srinagar that as chief minister and chairman of the Muslim Waqaf Board he would "personally monitor the work at Sufi shrine and make sure that its original structural characteristic is retained."

Last week's fire incinerated an 11th-century-old wooden shrine which housed a relic of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jeelani. However, it was reported that fires hadn't reached the main relic inside the sanctum sanatorium.

Initial reports suggested short-circuit as the cause of the fire incident.  

Soon after the fire accident, an angry mob set a fire tender vehicle ablaze and pelted stones at firemen and media personnel. Later on, scores of devotees gathered at the accident site and mourned over their loss.

The Jammu and Kashmir police authorities imposed restrictions in certain parts of the state as called upon by the situation. Abdullah apologised for the restrictions as cause for inconvenience to the people.  

"I make no apologies for the administrative measures used over the last few days in a handful of police stations. Situation demanded it," the CM tweeted.

"Unfortunately there are people completely devoid of any scruples who would exploit the recent tragedy and that couldn't be allowed. So while I have no hesitation in apologising to people inconvenienced by the restrictions we did what we had to do to keep the peace," he added.