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Fire at historic mosque plunges Kashmir valley in gloom

A fire incident at the 14th century Khanqah-e-Moalla, a historic place of Muslim worship, has plunged the Valley in gloom.

On Wednesday, thousands of people relocated went to Khanqah-e-Moalla, in the heart of Srinagar, which was partially damaged after lightning struck its minaret overnight.

A local resident said that the incident took place when it rained in Srinagar around midnight on Tuesday. “We heard thunder that followed lightning and soon the minaret of the Khankah was in flames.”

He raised the alarm and within no time hundreds  of people reached the spot and strived to put out the fire. The fire tenders also arrived soon and the fire was brought under control “within 30 minutes’. Only the minaret and the spire of the shrine, a combination of Kashmiri and Central Asian architecture, were damaged, the officials said.

The officials, however, suspect the fire was caused due to electric short circuit. An inquiry has been launched into the incident and the authorities have assured the people that the damaged portion of the shrine will be rebuilt soon.

Khanqah-e-Moula is located on the right bank of the river Jhelum between Fateh Kadal and Zaina Kadal bridges. First built in 1395 AD, it is one of the oldest mosques in Kashmir Valley. Well-known Persian Muslim preacher of Kubrawiya order Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani who played a major role in spreading Islam in Kashmir and also influenced the culture of the Valley made Khanqah-e-Moalla the main centre of his activities during his visits towards the end of the 14th century.

He is known as ‘Shah-e-Hamadan (the King of Hamadan)’, ‘Amir-e-Kabir (The Great Commander)’ and ‘Ali Thani (the Second Ali) in Kashmir. The Muslims in the Valleyt are too emotionally attached with this place of worship.

A witness said that while its minaret was in flames, he heard an elderly Kashmiri yelling ‘Oh God, you may burn down my house but spare Khankah-e-Moalla’.

The people of the area demanded installation of CCTVs in the shrine complex, availability of fire tenders in the locality, scientific protection to the wood structures at the shrine and expediting shrine expansion plan, an official spokesman said.

Kashmir’s chief Muslim cleric and separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and the leaders and activists of political, social and religious bodies also made a beeline to Khankah-e-Moalla.

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