Kashmir's Dastageer Shrine Gutted, Holy Relics Safe

Kashmir's Dastageer Shrine Gutted, Holy Relics Safe

25 June 2012
The Economic Times
Masood Hussain

Srinagar: As the entire administration was busy with the start of 40-day Amarnath yatra, a revered 200-year-old shrine of Dastgeer Sahib in the old city went up in flames on Monday morning. Although all the relics of the shrine are safe, the fire triggered tension across the Valley, leading to protests and clashes that left 50 people, including 11 cops, injured. Almost all political parties have called for a strike on Tuesday to mourn the loss. Schools have already informed parents that they would not be functioning on Tuesday. The J&K government has ordered a probe by the divisional commissioner, who has been asked to submit a report within a few days. 'The shrine was made of wood ... the fire spread quickly and the complex has been gutted,' an official of the Disaster Management Cell said. Fire tenders were rushed to the spot, but the blaze spread very fast and engulfed the shrine. The cause of the fire was not immediately known, but police is investigating the possibility of sabotage. Some people complained that fire fighters reported quite late and the ones that actually arrived lacked enough water in their chests to douse the flames. 'A number of our men are injured,' Fire Services DG GM Bhat said. 'There are limitations of securing water in the area as well,' he said. 'We have appointed an enquiry commission that will be headed by the divisional commissioner,' law minister Ali M Sagar said. 'The Waqf Board will start reconstructing the shrine strictly as per the digitised design that is already with the board,' he said. Junior home minister Nasir Aslam Wani said they had no clues as to how the shrine caught fire. Located at the main Khanyar Chowk, the shrine houses certain relics of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jeelani (1077-1166), the patron saint of Kurds who had immense following in the subcontinent despite not visiting it ever. The shrine was built in 1806, years after an Afghan traveler got some relics of the saint and presented them to Kashmir's Afghan governor Sardar Abdullah Khan.