Srinagar, Apr 17: A devastating fire broke out at Dargah Hazratbal in central Kashmir's Srinagar district on Saturday afternoon, damaging at least seven residential houses and a 'U-shaped' shopping complex. The incident occurred at around 3.30 pm in the afternoon, and firefighters arrived immediately to douse the flames.
According to officials, the cause of the fire remains unclear, and an investigation has been launched. No casualties have been reported, and firefighters were able to prevent the flames from spreading to nearby buildings.
They told that a fire erupted inside a shop, situated just opposite to Sir Syed Gate of Kashmir University, this morning. "Soon after, the fire raged and spread to many other shops and residential houses even as fire tenders from several nearby stations were roped in to douse off the flames on time."
After several hours of hectic efforts, the fire was brought under control, the officials said adding the blaze however caused damage to at least seven residential houses and many shops, including Hattrick and Amigos food outlets, part of a 'U-shaped' shopping complex
However, officials have expressed their dismay at the insensitive approach of motorists in such emergencies, urging authorities to consider escorting fire tenders with police teams to ensure swift response and avoid loss of property and life.
Speaking to reporters, a Fire and Emergency Services (F&ES) department official said "We face a lot of difficulties while responding to fire incidents due to the insensitive approach of some people on the roads. Authorities must consider the security escort of firefighting teams during emergency situations."
The official also appealed to the general public to avoid obstructing the movement of fire trucks while they are on their way to tackle emergencies.
Meanwhile, the affected families have been provided temporary accommodation, and authorities have assured them of all necessary assistance.
Dargah Hazratbal is a blessed religious site revered by Muslims in Kashmir and beyond. The incident has caused distress among devotees, who visit the site in large numbers throughout the year.
The J&K Waqf Board owns some of the structures that were damaged in the event. J&K Waqf Board Chairperson Dr. Darakshan Andrabi stated that she was visiting the location to assess the situation when called to confirm the validity of these statements. I will be returning to the location soon to learn more and evaluate the situation, she stated.
J&K Waqf Board orders enquiry into Hazratbal fire Incident
The Jammu and Kashmir Waqf Board on Monday constituted a four-member committee to enquire into a Hazratbal fire incident in which dozen structures were partially damaged and they has been asked to submit their report within 10 days.
As per the circular issued by Waqf Board, in view of serious allegations of illegal transfer of Waqf Property at Hazratbal Srinagar in the past, & alleged negligence shown by Waqf employees & tenants leading to the fire incident, a Committee is hereby constituted to enquire into the incident & its circumstances.
The four-member committee includes; Dr. Ghulam Nabi Haleem, Board Member (Chair), Mehraj-ud-din Beigh, Principal Madinat-ul-Aloom, (Member), Mohammad Ashiq Wani, Estates Officer, R&E Wing, (Member) and Javaid Iqbal Wani, J.E Electrical (Member).
The order further reads that in addition to the enquiry into the complaints of alleged negligence leading to the fire incident.
"The committee shall also peruse the history of allotment of property & allegations of unauthorized transfer of the instant property and submit its report along with recommendations within a period of 10 days positively for perusal of the Hon'ble Chairperson and further necessary action”, reads the directive further," it said.