More than a dozen shops were gutted in a devastating fire during the night in Shalimar Market which falls outside the famous Mughal garden- Shalimar Bagh on the banks of Dal Lake.
Locals told Kashmir Vision that the fire broke out at 3: 15 in morning that left the shops totally damaged. “Around fifteen shops are fully damaged while five have been partially damaged in the fire incident,” they said.
The locals said that they immediately called the Fire and Emergency (F&E) Service’s and the fire tenders reached on time and doused the fire.
Shopkeepers whose shops were gutted in this incident accused the security forces for setting their shops on fire.
“As Pakistan won the match yesterday, people came out of their homes and started celebrating their victory by bursting crackers till late night and hoisting Pakistani flag,” they said.
“We allege that security forces have damaged our shops by setting them on fire this morning as we hoisted Pakistani flag last night,” they added.
The structures that have been gutted in the incident include the shops of Kiryana, Dhaba, Photography, Kashmir Art, Paper Mache and a cafe.
Shopkeepers said that they had to face huge financial losses due to devastation created by the fire incident.
“My analysis says that I have faced the loss of around ten lakh rupees within minutes,” says Ghulam Rasool Bakhsi who runs Bakhshi Studios in the market.
Vice President Shalimar Market Mir Mehraj said that government must now provide the compensation to the victims.
“Shopkeepers have faced the losses in crores. The equipments they had bought costs worth lakhs and crores but now they don’t stand anywhere,” Mehraj said.
“Eid and Amarnath Yatra seasons are ahead and the tourist will be arriving here soon. It will be better if the government will re-construct these shops at the earliest,” he added.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) City Imtiyaz Ismail Parray termed the allegation as baseless.
“Our initial report suggests that fire has erupted due to bursting of fire crackers by the locals last night as most of the shops there are of wooden structures,” the SSP said.