Srinagar: As normal
life resumed in Srinagar and other parts of the Valley Saturday,
Kashmir survived yet another tragedy - this time without any blood
being spilt on the roads.
The destruction of the second holiest Muslim shrine of the Valley
in a mysterious blaze on Monday threw Kashmiris into a state of
shock and mourning, reminding one of a similar tragedy in 1995
when the shrine of the Valley's patron saint, Sheikh Noor-ud-Din
Wali, was destroyed in a blaze in central Kashmir's
In December 1997, another highly revered shrine, Khanqah-e-Faiz
Panah of Mir Ali Syed Hamdani, was destroyed in a blaze in south
Kashmir's Tral town.
The reverence of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jeelani, known as Peer
Dastgeer by the Muslims and Kahnoow by the local Hindus, extends
back centuries. The relics preserved inside the over-300-year-old
include a hair of the saint's beard, a Quranic manuscript by
Caliph Ali Murtaza, son-in-law of the Prophet and another
manuscript by Caliph Abu Bakr.
The relics are believed to have been brought here by an Afghan
governor 337 years ago.
The strike in mourning against the destruction of the shrine was
spontaneous and total. As the news about the destruction of the
shrine spread, some youths started pelting stones at the security
forces, who clamped curfew-like restrictions in the trouble prone
areas of the old city.
It must be said to the credit of the people that despite the shock
and mourning over the destruction of the Muslim shrine, the Hindu
pilgrimage to the Amarnath Cave shrine continued without a hiccup.
While roads remained deserted and markets appeared haunted during
the last five days, nobody stopped or interfered with the hundreds
of vehicles carrying pilgrims to the Amarnath Cave shrine in south
and north Kashmir areas.
If certain elements were out to exploit the situation for
political reasons, this time the state administration also acted
with firmness and fortitude.
The state government did not go into hiding. Chief Minister Omar
Abdullah visited the shrine site, cutting short his London visit.
State governor N.N. Vohra, union minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, state
Congress chief Saif-ud-Din Soz, former union minister Karan Singh
and Leader of Opposition in the assembly Mehooba Mufti visited the
site in sharp contrast to 2010 summer unrest when all the
mainstream leaders had gone into hiding.
While the decision of the state administration placing the
separatist leaders under house arrest disallowing their requests
to visit the shrine has been criticized, the state chief minister,
Omar Abdullah, is patting his administration for handling the
"And if you want to see examples of people who would rather have
seen blood spilt on the streets take a look at my timeline",
Abdullah posted on his Twitter site.
He described his decision to clamp curfew-like restrictions as
"So while I have no hesitation in apologizing to people
inconvenienced by the restrictions we did what we had to do to
keep the peace", he commented.
As educational institutions, markets, traffic, post offices,
government offices and other businesses started normally in
Srinagar city and elsewhere in the Valley today, Kashmiris have
silently made a loud statement - the shrine will be restored to
its original glory, but blood of youth won't be spilled on roads
to settle political scores.