Curbs continue in Srinagar’s old city after shrine fire

June 29th, 2012 - 7:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, June 29 (IANS) Curfew-like restrictions continued in the old city areas of Srinagar for the fourth consecutive day Friday in the wake of tension after fire gutted the revered shrine of Muslim saint Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jeelani in the Khanyar area.

Contingents of police and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were seen patrolling Nowhatta, M.R. Gunj, Rainawari, Khanyar, Safakadal and Kralkhud areas in the old city. The movement of pedestrians and vehicles was also restricted in these areas.

In uptown areas of Chanapora, Nowgam, Barzalla and Bypass Road, troopers in riot gear have been deployed to maintain law and order and also to ensure smooth movement of Amarnath-bound pilgrims along the Bypass Road.

The cause behind the fire is yet to be ascertained. A superintending engineer of the power department has reportedly said that the power supply to the shrine was on when the blaze occurred.

This is in contrast to an earlier statement by the custodian of the shrine’s relics, Syed Abdul Khalid Geelani, who said that there was no electricity in the shrine when the fire broke out around 6.30 a.m. Monday.

The state government’s proposal for an impartial inquiry into the fire has been rejected by separatist as well as religious leaders.

Rejecting any government probe, Kashmir’s grand Mufti, Mufti Bashir-ud-Din, and Maulana Ghulam Rasool Hami, both of whom are seen as pro-government clerics, have asked for an independent inquiry into the blaze that gutted the shrine of the saint, known popularly as Peer Dastgeer by Muslims and Kahnoow by Kashmiri Hindus.

The grand Mufti of Kashmir appealed to the people to march to Khanyar Friday to express their love and reverence for the saint.

On micro-blogging site Twitter, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah recently said, “I am sorry but will someone please ask him (Mufti Bashir-ud-Din) how my government stands to benefit from destroying the shrine?”

Replying to the criticism of Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, chairman of the moderate Hurriyat group, who asked for lifting the restrictions in the old city areas, the chief minister tweeted, “Why don’t you blame the stone-pelters? If I was (sic) so keen to (sic) ‘curfew you’, I’d have done it without the stone throwing.”

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