Blaze at Sufi shrine triggers violence in Indian Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India, June 25 Mon Jun 25, 2012 2:14pm IST

SRINAGAR, India, June 25 (Reuters) - Fire gutted one of the most revered Sufi Muslim shrines in the Indian part of the divided Kashmir region on Monday sparking clashes between police and angry Muslim protesters, witnesses said.

Indian Kashmir has long been plagued by violence over a campaign by some of its mostly Muslim residents, helped by supporters in neighbouring Pakistan, to break away from India.

Indian authorities say rebel violence has recently fallen to its lowest level since the anti-India revolt broke out in 1989, but Monday's clashes will be a reminder of how volatile the region can be.

At least six people were hurt in Kashmir's main city of Srinagar when police fired teargas at stone-throwing protesters enraged over the destruction of the 350-year-old wooden shrine which housed a relic of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jeelani, an 11th century Sufi saint, police said.

Rioters torched a fire engine and threw stones at firefighters and some members of the media.

"After morning prayers, fire started from the roof top of the shrine. We're still trying to determine the cause," said Farooq Ahmad, a police official at the scene.

"The holy relic of the Sufi saint is safe and has been retrieved."

Police sealed off roads leading to the shrine where hundreds of men and women had gathered, many of them wailing and crying.

"I feel like I've lost everything," cried a 45-year-old woman, Shameema Akhtar, tears rolling down her cheeks.

Muslim militants spearheading the anti-India campaign in Kashmir have in the past tried to enforce a radical form of Islam, banning beauty parlours, cinemas and liquor shops, as well as asking women to wear the veil.

But they have had little success in a region where people mostly follow Sufiism, a gentle, mystic tradition of Islam.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the years of strife in the region that both of the nuclear-armed rivals, India and Pakistan, claim. Pakistan controls part of Kashmir in the west.

(Reporting by Sheikh Mushtaq; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared
People walk in the Wipro campus in Bangalore June 23, 2009. REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe/Files

Wipro Q4 net profit beats estimates, rises 29 percent

Wipro posted a 29 percent rise in its fourth-quarter net profit, beating expectations, helped by increased IT spending by its customers. For the quarter ended March 31, the company said it earned 22.27 billion rupees compared with 17.29 billion rupees a year earlier.  Full Article | Full Coverage 

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Election 2014

Election 2014

India holds biggest day of voting with BJP gaining strength  Read | Full Coverage 

Market Eye

Market Eye

Sensex jumps 351 points, snaps 3-day losing streak  Full Article 

Insider Trading Case

Insider Trading Case

Ex-Goldman director Rajat Gupta to surrender June 17 in insider case.  Full Article 

Expansion Plans

Expansion Plans

Reliance Industries, HPCL Mittal plan refinery expansions.  Full Article 

S&P on India

S&P on India

S&P: India's ratings to depend on next govt econ, fiscal policies.  Full Article 

Ambitious Aim

Ambitious Aim

In green car race, Toyota adds muscle with fuel-cell launch.  Full Article 

Deal Talk

Deal Talk

Piramal to buy 20 percent stake in Shriram Capital for $334 million.  Full Article 

Bond Market

Bond Market

A star abroad, RBI boss riles bond traders at home  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage