Attempt to set shops ablaze in Lal Chowk averted: Officials

Lal Chowk Srinagar/ File Photo

A fire in a posh market here was averted during the night, the latest in a series of mysterious incidents in the city, officials said on Monday.

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, the 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. “We informed the market association members who in turn alerted the police.”

This was the third such instance in as many nights as miscreants 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 were being investigated and strict action will be taken against those found involved in these acts.

There have been several mysterious fire incidents in the city, in which shops have been destroyed or partially damaged during the night, after the abrogation of Article 370 of 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, police has so far maintained that the fires were caused by electric short circuit.

Suspected militants had carried out a grenade attack in the busy Goni Khan market last month that 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.

Meanwhile, most of the schools in the city started operations from Monday as buses carrying students could be seen plying on the roads early in the morning.