Posted On Tuesday, June 26, 2012 at 08:27:38 AM
• Onlookers watch as fire fighters try to extinguish the fire at the shrine of Dastageer Sahib in Srinagar on Monday
Srinagar: Amassive fire broke out at a 200-year-old Sufi shrine in Srinagar around 6.30 am on Monday, injuring at least 10. Another 40 people, including 10 policemen, were injured in the aftermath of the fire as angry people had run-ins with officials over the delay in putting out the blaze.
The fire originated on the roof of the building that houses the shrine of 11th century saint, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jeelani, popularly known as Peer Dastageer Sahib. Within moments, flames engulfed the structure, primarily made of wood.
• Residents chant anti-India slogans as they carry a wounded man for treatment (below) women cry outside shrine as they watch the structure go up in flames
The cause of the fire is still unknown. The shrine held the relics of popular saint. While the ceiling and chandeliers were destroyed, the chief cleric at the shrine said that written copies of the Quran are safe . Local resident Sajjad Bhat said he saw people run out screaming as the police struggled to control the fire.
Ten fire engines reached half an hour later, by which time a huge part of the building was destroyed . Angry residents protested at the “slow response of firemen” and policemen were deployed in various parts to control the situation. People resorted to stone-pelting while the police responded with tear gas and fired bullets into the air.
Call for probe, shutdown
The stategovernment ordered a probe into the fire. "Divisional Commissioner Asgar Samoon will submit a report in a few days," said Minister for Law Ali Mohammad Sagar.
Meanwhile, the Hurriyat Conference has called for a day-long shutdown to mourn the destruction of the shrine. “It is a great loss. We are pained to hear of the incident,” said Kashmiri Pandit and Saba Leader Jigen Ji Goja.