Kashmir’s revered shrines vulnerable to fire

Kashmir’s revered shrines vulnerable to fire

Dastageer Sahib, Naqshband Sahib and Jamia Masjid Srinagar lack an effective fire-fighting mechanism

SRINAGAR: Just a stone throw from the shrine of Syed Ali Hamadani, that caught fire after three back-to-back bolts of lightning hit its spire, two other shrines and a mosque lay vulnerable to fire. The places of worship have no fire-fighting mechanism in place.
One of the shrines is Syed Abdul Qadir’s shrine at Khanyar in the old town. The shrine that was made with intricate papier-machie, has no immediate fire-fighting system in place. The shrine was caught in a devastating fire in 2012 that damaged the entire structure. The fire triggered protests, which forced the state to impose restriction across the valley.
The shrine was built afresh, but the administration failed to install an effective fire-fighting mechanism.
Just few meters away from the revered Dastigeer sahib shrine, there is the Naqshband Sahib shrine, named after Khawaja Syed Bha-u-Deen Naqsaband, a sufi saint. Like Hamdan’s shrine, it is also made of wood, decorated with papier machie, for which highly inflammable paint was used. This shrine is also devoid of an effective fire-fighting system.
Ahead of the shrine, J&K’s largest mosque – the Jamia Masjid – has stood as the epicenter of socio-cultural activity for centuries. The 140,000 square feet mosque, set in the centre of the old town, Nowhatta, is build of bricks, square stones and tall wooden deodar pillars that support its ceiling made of corrugated iron sheets. But the structure too is vulnerable to fire.
Deputy Director Fire and Emergency Department, Mohammad Akbar Dar, told Kashmir Reader that none of these shrines have effective fire-fighting system in place.
“Dastigeer sahab has not been provided by any fire-fighting system despite being caught in a massive fire. Naqshband sahab is same,” he said. “However four hydrants, without tools that could be used for taking out water to the mosque, have been installed four years ago (at the Jamia Masjid). Rest it does not have anything. A fire in any of these shrine, will cause heavy damage.”
According to Dar, installation of an effective fire-fighting system at each shrine would cost a meagre Rs 20 lakh. He said it includes use of fire redundant paint, installation of smoke detection system, sprinkle system, and hydrant system.
“Fire redundant paint does not catch fire easily,” Dar said. The paint used right now is highly inflammable. “Smoke detection system will set an alarm immediately. The sprinkle system, which is put on automatic mode, will sprinkle water if there is a fire. Hydrant system will come into function if these system do not work,” he said.
Head Imam at the Jamia Masjid, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, said he was not feeling well, and could not comment. “I am down with fever and cold, talk to secretary Auqaf advocate Ashraf,” he said.
Ashraf did not respond to repeated calls from this newspaper.
Peer Muhammad Hussain, who recently held the charge of Vice-Chairman Waqf Board, the agency that entrusted with the management of Dastegeer Sahib and Naqshband Sahib shrines had earlier said that they were planning advanced mechanism for the shrines.
“We were planning to install latest fire-fighting equipment inside the shrine. I don’t know what these equipment will be, but the process will start in March 2018,” he said.




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