By Haroon Reshi
Srinagar: Four years have passed since state government had asked the Wakf board to take immediate “fire safety measures” including the installation of CCTV cameras in the major shrines in Kashmir Valley, the board is yet to install these cameras.
In 2012, several ‘mysterious’ fire incidents occurred in different shrines across the Valley including at 249-year-old heritage shrine of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jeelani (RA) in Srinagar.
The government had issued a circular directing the Wakf Board, the caretaker of most of the shrines in the state, to take “necessary measures” including the installation of CCTV cameras to ensure “safety, security and sanctity” of the important shrines and major masques across the Valley.
Soon after the government directions, the board, according to sources, identified several major shrines including Assar-i-Sharief Hazratbal, Makhdoom Sahib, Dastgir Sahib, Syed Yaqoob Sahib Sonwar, Drugjan Mosque, Buchwara Mosque, Syed Asim Shah Qasim Shah, Khankah-e-Moulla, Shehri Kailashpora, Rup Reshi Habba Kadal, Jinab Sahib Soura, Malik Sahib Soura and at Mirza Kamil Sahib Hawal, where the CCTV cameras were supposed to be installed.
However, after four years later, the board is yet to do even cost assessment for the project.
“We will be installing CCTV cameras soon. We have approached the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Islamic University of Science and Technology for the assistance in this regard.” Peer Muhammad Hussain, vice-chairman of Wakf board told Kashmir Reader.
When asked why it took so long to implement the government guidelines about the safety of the holy places, he said, “I don’t know why it was not executed in the past, but since I took over as the vice-chairman of the board, I am on the Job. You will see CCTV Cameras installed in all identified shrines very soon.”
Secretary Wakf Board, GM Rather, said the delay was a result of the 2014 floods.
“We could not install the cameras because of the floods and other unprecedented situations. But now we are going to do it in the coming days,” he said.
The observers, however, blame the Wakf officials’ “incompetence” for it.
“They will give you a plenty of reasons to hide their incompetence. By not installing CCTV cameras in the shrines, the board is actually putting these holy places at risk,” Zarief Ahmad Zarief, a prominent social activist, told Kashmir Reader.
“Somebody needs to ask the board authorities to deliver. They need to be asked why they failed to install a few CCTV cameras during the past four years.”