Srinagar, June 26 (IANS) Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Tuesday called for peace and assured the people that the 17th century shrine of Peer Dastgeer will be restored to its original glory and the best possible expertise engaged for the restoration work.
Except for some stray incidents of stone pelting in the city by some youths, the day passed off peacefully amid tight restrictions imposed by the authorities in six police station areas of the city.
Cutting short his visit to Britain, Abdullah arrived home Tuesday and drove straight to the gutted shell of the shrine in Khanyar area of the old city for an on-the-spot inspection and assessment of the damage.
The chief minister appealed to the people to maintain peace, exercise restraint and exhibit highest degree of tolerance.
He said the entire state is anguished and is in a state of mourning. He urged the people of the state to beware of divisive forces whose sole objective is to disrupt peace and harmony.
"All of us who regard and respect the divine and revered Shrine, should stand for peace and tolerance," he said.
The over 300-year-old shrine of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jeelani, known as Peer Dastgeer by the Muslims and Kahnoow by the local Hindus, was gutted in a devastating blaze that started around 6.30 a.m. Monday. Within minutes, the fire engulfed the entire wooden structure of the shrine.
However, the holy relics of the saint were retrieved and were safe, according to custodian Syed Khalid Hussain Jeelani.
Immediately after the blaze, youths resorted to heavy stone pelting at the police. A mob also attacked the Khanyar police station.
Police used tear smoke shells and batons to disperse the protestors.
As many as 20 people, including 10 protestors and 10 policemen, were injured in the daylong clashes.