SRINAGAR, July 23: The sixth incident of fire at religious places in Kashmir took place on Sunday night after a blaze erupted at a Mosque in central district of Budgam, police said.
They said that a mosque in central Kashmir’s Wohangam village of Beerwah Tehsil, some 25 km from Srinagar, was set ablaze around midnight on Sunday triggering protests in the area.
“At night somebody had set fire to curtains of the Jamia Masjid and thrown them into the finished wooden frames meant for windows of second floor of the mosque. The fire has damaged a potion of the wood stack. Fortunately there was no damage to the mosque, “said Station House Officer Beerwah, Mohammad Akbar.
“This seems a deliberate attempt of arson as the hanging curtains first burnt and then thrown into the wood stacked in one side of the mosque in ground floor,” he said.
This is the sixth incident of fire or attempts to set fire to religious places in Muslim-majority Kashmir. The largest public uprising ever witnessed in Kashmir was in 1963 when the holy relic of Prophet Muhammad was stolen from the Hazratbal shrine in Srinagar.
Now, people in Kashmir are concerned that the series of recent incidents could be deliberate attempts to stoke communal tensions.
More than a week ago, a 300-year-old shrine of Baba Haneefudin was destroyed in a mysterious fire in central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
On June 25, Kashmir shut in mourning for four days after the centuries-old shrine of Iranian saint Sheikh Syed Abdul Qadir Geelani or Dastgeer Sahab – as the saint is locally called – was gutted in fire in old city of Srinagar.
Four days later on June 29 protests erupted in outskirts of Srinagar city after news spread of an alleged attempt to set fire and desecration of Quran and a relic. The incident took place at a local Imam Bargah in Mirgund area bordering the volatile Baramulla district in North Kashmir.
The authorities have directed the police to increase the security cover around all religious places in the valley and also to tighten the night vigils.
Separatist leaders have termed the attacks as part of a ‘big conspiracy’.
“Government has not only failed in probing these incidents but is also busy stoking the fires. They seem to be hell-bent at creating a divide among the Muslims to derail the ongoing freedom movement,” hard-line separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani said.
State’s Law Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar said the authorities were investigating into the cases.
“These could be isolated incidents but sabotage cannot be ruled out by any chance,” he said.