Kashmir: Blaze destroys Islamic scripts - Gulf Daily News
- Blaze destroys Islamic scripts
SRINAGAR: Kashmir's oldest school burned down
yesterday in a suspected arson attack that sparked
emotional street protests over an institution that has
educated the region's most prominent and influential
people for generations.
Also lost in the blaze was one of the world's oldest
copies of the Quran.
The Islamia Higher Secondary School, a 105-year-old
brick and wood structure with high arched windows and
ceilings of cedar logs, was gutted in the fire that
broke out early yesterday in the centre of Srinagar,
senior police officer Javed Ahmad said.
"We suspect mischief. It doesn't seem to be an
accident," Ahmad said.
The school housed one of the oldest and rarest
libraries on Islam, with some 30,000 books, including
one of the rarest manuscripts of the Quran,
handwritten by Usman bin Affan - the third "Righteous
Caliph" of Islam.
The library was completely destroyed.
News of the fire sent shockwaves through the city, and
people went out into the streets and shut down shops
in an emotional outpouring. Hundreds of the school's
students staged a protest march.
"I am in shock. I can't believe it," said Mohammed
Hussain, who lives next to the school. "Soon after
dawn, the fire started in the left wing of the
building. Within minutes, before I could blink an eye,
it had spread all over."
The school, which has some 2,500 students, was built
in 1899 and is run by Anjuman-e-Nusrat-ul Islam
(Society for the Victory of Islam), a religious and
educational trust headed by Umar Farooq, the chief
Muslim cleric in Kashmir.
Farooq is also a top leader of the All Parties
Hurriyat Conference (APHC), a political separatist
grouping in Kashmir. The Hurriyat called an emergency
meeting after the fire, and Farooq's party, the Awami
Action Committee, called for a general strike today.
Farooq, a moderate, has been targetted in recent
months by suspected armed Islamic groups. Farooq's
uncle, Mushtaq Ahmed, was shot while saying prayers at
a mosque on May 29 and died of his wounds a week
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