Kashmir revered Sufi Shrine fire accident
Representational picture of a fire accidentReuters

Normal life was disrupted across the Kashmir valley on Tuesday as separatist groups called a day-long strike over the fire accident which destroyed the shrine of the 11th century saint, Hazrat Gaus-ul-Azam Sheikh Syed Abdul Qadir Jeelani, in Srinagar on Monday.

Schools, colleges, shops, office and commercial stores remained closed. Many government officials were unable to report to their duties as the public transports were also affected.

The destruction of the wooden shrine Monday sparked an outrage among Muslim devotes as the rioters took to the streets and restored to stone-pelting. The mob even attacked police force and firemen. They also set ablaze a fire tender vehicle.

Police personnel lobbed teargases to control the mob as they realized that situation was slipping out of their hands. During the police-rioters clash, at least 40 people were injured and no causalities were reported.  

The Kashmir government has ordered a probe into the fire accident. Authorities think short-circuit was the cause of the fire.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah sympathised with the Muslim devotees, describing the shrine fire accident as tragedy. He tweeted, "The burning down of our revered shrine Dastgeer Sahib is a tragedy that will take time to sink in."

He wrote, "The effort of some to create trouble from this is, however, reprehensible. Waqf board is committed to rebuilding the shrine quickly but right now cooler heads must prevail and the tragedy must not be exploited."

Meanwhile, according to the latest media reports, the state government could have prevented the fire incident if it had taken fire audit warnings seriously. According to a newspaper report, the government didn't take the necessary steps to safeguard the century-old shrine against fire despite several warnings by Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). However, the authorities are yet to comment on it.

Monday's fire accident incinerated the 350-year-old wooden shrine which housed a relic of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jeelani, setting off an outrage in the troubled state. The main relic inside the sanctum sanatorium is supposedly safe.