Srinagar: A fire was narrowly averted on Sunday night in a posh market in Srinagar, the latest in a series of mysterious incidents in the city, officials said on Monday, suspecting that shop owners who have defied an undeclared shutdown against the scrapping Jammu and Kashmir’s special status are being targeted.
Late on Sunday night, an inflammable substance was sprinkled on a few shops in Lambert Lane market on Residency Road but alert residents of the building foiled the attempt to set the shops on fire, officials said.
“Late on Sunday night, we noticed smell of petrol around the building and we quickly went downstairs to check. There was no one around, but the fuel had been sprinkled on a few shops,” said a resident of the building, who preferred to remain anonymous. The residents informed the market association members who in turn alerted the police, he said.
This was the third such instance in as many nights when unidentified individuals carried out similar acts at Budshah Chowk, right in front of the highly guarded Akhara Building on Saturday night, and at Goni Khan near Hari Singh High Street, the night earlier.
A senior police official said the incidents are being investigated and strict action will be taken against those found involved.
There have been several mysterious fire incidents in the city, in which shops have been destroyed or partially damaged during the night, after the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the constitution on August 5.
While most of the targeted shops have been in the areas where markets were open beyond the self-imposed deadline of noon closure to protest the repeal of special status of Jammu and Kashmir, the police has so far maintained that the fires were caused by electric short circuit.
Terrorists had carried out a grenade attack in the busy Goni Khan market last month that had left two persons dead and more than 30 others injured.
A shopkeeper was shot dead in Parimpora area of the city while five members of a family were shot at and injured in Sopore area of north Kashmir since August 5. Both the attacks were linked to the victims defiance of the shutdown ”diktat”.
Meanwhile, most of the schools in the city started normal operations from Monday and buses carrying students could be seen on the roads early in the morning.
Barring the suspension of internet in the valley, life has returned almost to normal following tension that lasted nearly four months following the landmark move by the centre in August.