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Protests over fire in Srinagar shrine

Mukhtar Ahmad inn Srinagar | July 05, 2008 18:11 IST

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Fresh tension gripped Srinagar [Images] on Saturday afternoon after a historically revered shrine was partially damaged in a fire.

The shrine, located in the Soura locality on the outskirts of Srinagar, houses the relics of the Holy Prophet, his Caliphs and some saints.

The shrine complex is guarded by the state police and the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force.

Witnesses said the historic building was afire after a deafening blast in the dome of shrine on Saturday afternoon.

The blaze partially damaged the top floor of the shrine.

Fire tenders rushed to the spot immediately and controlled the blaze.

However, angry residents came out of their homes and assembled outside the shrine shouting anti-government slogans.

The mobs resorted to heavy stone-pelting on the paramilitary bunkers guarding the shrine complex.

Hundreds of people took out a procession and engaged the police inĀ battles in the main Soura area market.

Senior police officers who rushed to the spot said that it looked a case of "accidental fire apparently".

"Police is investigating further in matter. All the relics are safe," a police spokesman in Srinagar said.

The fresh protests came on a day when a strike was being observed in Srinagar against the police beating of a senior separatist leader Shabir Shah on Friday.

Saturday's protests came close on heels of the 10-day-long demonstrations in Srinagar against the allotment of 40 hectares of forest land to the Sri Amarnath Shrine Board.

Five people were killed and more than 400 wounded in the 10-day-long protests forcing the state government to cancel the land allotment order.

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