Clashes broke out between angry protesters and police in the old town of Srinagar following a blaze that gutted one of the most revered shrines in Kashmir.
Protesting residents were angered over what they said was a slow response by firefighters.
The cause of the fire at the 350-year-old shrine which housed a relic of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jeelani, an 11th century Sufi saint, was not immediately known.
The blaze started from the roof of the shrine shortly after morning prayers and quickly engulfed the wooden structure, a police official said.
“After morning prayers, fire started from the roof top of the shrine. We’re still trying to determine the cause,” said Farooq Ahmad, another police official at the scene. “The holy relic of the Sufi saint is safe and has been retrieved.”
Police used tear smoke shells and resorted to lathi charge to disperse the stone pelting mob. Many commercial establishments in the area spontaneously shut down as a mark of protest.
At least 20 people, 10 of them policemen were injured in the clashes. One fire engine was set ablaze, seven were damaged. One ambulance was also damaged by angry mobs.
The more than three hundred year old shrine of the 11th century saint is the nerve centre of spirituality in Kashmir. The shrine is equally revered by all people of all faiths and its damage in the fire has caused deep anguish and shock. This was evident, after women were seen on streets wailing and beating their chests, as they saw fire engulfing the shrine.