Srinagar – In a disturbing incident, a section of a dome at the Hazratbal shrine sheared off on Tuesday, leading to disturbance and angry demonstrations in the area, with people accusing the Waqf Board of negligence.
Shops and businesses in the neighbourhood closed down as groups of youth took to the streets, pelting stones at passing vehicles.
Constructed around 45 years ago, the dome was under renovation, but masonry began to fall off at around noon today, leaving one-third of the structure damaged, reports said.
Waqf Board officials rushed to the shrine as word of the ensuing disturbance spread, and the chief minister dispatched advisor Mubarak Gul to ascertain facts and ordered an inquiry into the collapse.
The divisional commissioner for Kashmir, and other top civil and police officers too arrived on the scene immediately afterwards.
Senior cabinet minister Ali Muhammad Sagar who visited the area had to face public anger.
Angry crowds alleged that sub-standard material had been used in construction.
The superintending engineer of the Waqf Board, Farooq Ahmad Shah, said that the dome had been constructed 46 years ago under the supervision of what was then the Muslim Auqaf Trust.
He said that the safety standards could have been overlooked at that time, which caused damage today.
Speaking from Delhi, the vice-chairman of the Waqf Board, MY Qadiri, said that the lower portion of the dome had been damaged, but ruled out water seepage as the cause.
When asked negligence of the Waqf Board was responsible for the damage, he replied in the negative, asserting that construction at the shrine had been carried out under the supervision of experts from Mumbai.
The chairman of the JKLF, Muhammad Yasin Malik, who visited the Hazratbal shrine later said that it should be handed over to the public if the Waqf Board was unable to come up to the expectations of the masses.
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