Security Agencies On Alert Over Mysterious Burning Of Shrines In Kashmir

Security Agencies On Alert Over Mysterious Burning Of Shrines In Kashmir

18 August 2012
Business Standard
Gyan Varma

New Delhi: The mysterious burning of four religious shrines in Kashmir valley in less than two months has baffled the security agencies as authorities believe that it could be done by people who want to incite religious tensions between communities in the militancy hit state. Security experts suspect the timing of the burning of shrines because according to the internal report of the Union government, the fire incidents started just before the beginning of Amarnath yatra and the trend continued in the valley all throughout the 36-day long yatra. The Amarnath yatra this year started on June 25 and continued till Raksha Bandhan (August 2). The first incident happened at Peer Dastgeer Sahib shrine, a 245-year-old shrine in Srinagar, which mysteriously caught fire that led to brutal clashes between residents of the area, police and the security forces. Similarly, mysterious fire incidents were also reported from Syed Sahab Konibal in Awantipore area and Hazrat Syed Saib shrines in the Kashmir valley. Although the official line taken by the local police is that all the shrines were burnt because of short circuit, but intelligence agencies suspect that it was the work of a group of people who want to incite religious feelings and revive militancy in the Kashmir valley. “The fire at Peer Dastgeer Sahib shrine was due to the short circuit but the remaining fire incidents are suspicious. This is just the beginning of bringing back militancy by inciting religious feelings of a community during Amarnath yatra. If these incidents are not controlled in time, it could lead to severe law and order problems in the state. We firmly believe that this trend of mysterious fire at religious institutions will continue for some time,” said a senior official who is aware of the investigations being carried out security agencies. Senior officials believe that during the early 1990s, similar strategy was used by the militants to attack religious shrines and then blame security agencies for the incidents. “People of the Kashmir valley are already suspicious of the security agencies, so its easy to blame the men in uniform because people will not believe the government’s version,” added the officer. Surprisingly, incidents of mysterious fire continued in the Valley where the Alam Sharief shrine had mysteriously caught fire in its premises and the incident of burning of religious books came to light at the Imam Bara outside Srinagar city. “This is a clear trend. Accidents can happen once or twice but these incidents are continuing and its the new face of militancy in Kashmir. There is another striking change in the tactics of terrorists who have stopped attacking security men in groups, but they rather silently choose their targets and shoot at security men from point blank range and then run away,” the officer added. Security agencies believe the trend to attack unsuspecting and unguarded security is extremely dangerous for the morale of the men and this affects more because in all the cases, the militants have managed to run away without a trace.