M A I N   N E W S

Clashes over Srinagar shrine fire, 30 injured
Tribune News Service and Agencies

Srinagar, July 5
Over 30,000 protesters converged on Jenab Sahib in the Soura area of Srinagar and clashed with the security forces after a fire broke out in the shrine that houses the holy relic of Prophet Mohammad. Thirty persons were injured, including some photo-journalists.

Officials said the relic and the shrine were safe. An unconfirmed report spoke of “extensive” damage to the shrine.

Local residents managed to save the relic and other holy “taborakats” in the shrine, reports said. They alleged that all the police personnel on guard duty of the shrine were missing after the incident. They said that the fire was caused by a blast inside the shrine and accused the CRPF personnel from a nearby camp of “causing” the explosion. The crowd set on fire the belongings of the police personnel. Eyewitnesses said police fired teargas shells and lathicharged to disperse the demonstrators.

Police and CRPF officers denied the allegations and said CRPF personnel in the camp near the shrine had informed the fire brigade and helped locals control the fire.

As fire tenders doused the flames, protesters fought pitched battles with the security force personnel.

The irate mob snatched two rifles and tore off their uniforms forcing them to take shelter at a nearby police station.

The police and CRPF personnel used batons and tear gas shells to try to chase away the mob but in vain, the sources said, adding, 29 persons including six fire brigade staff and three CRPF personnel besides five photo journalists and a cameraman of a private TV news channel were injured.

The police said nine of their men were injured.

Different mainstream and separatist parties expressed concern over the incident and asked people to maintain peace and communal harmony. These leaders included APHC chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik.

The PDP spokesman said that the party was “deeply anguished” over the “sacrilege” of the shrine.

The spokesman said the atmosphere in the state was already surcharged and vested interests were bent on aggravating the situation.

At a meeting to take stock of the situation, the PDP leaders and legislators appealed to the people to stay calm.



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