SRINAGAR - Fire gutted one of the most revered Sufi Muslim shrines in the Indian-occupied Kashmir on Monday sparking clashes between police and angry Muslim protesters, witnesses said.
At least six people were hurt in Held 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 of Peer Dastageer Sahib, 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.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the years of Kashmiris’ struggle against the Indian rule.
To control the ensuing violence and prevent large-scale protests, authorities placed APHC leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and some other Kashmiri leaders under pre-emptive house arrest.