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April 24, 2018
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Lightning damages famous J&K shrineWas an attraction for pilgrims from both India and Pakistan.

The single-storey shrine of Baba Farid, a 13th Century Sufi saint revered by Muslims and Sikhs equally on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC), was “extensively” damaged due to lightning in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district on Wednesday.

“It’s an unfortunate incident. Apparently, lightning damaged the structure during the intervening night of March 13-14 and early on Wednesday. We are assessing the damage and the exact cause,” Uri Sub-Divisional Magistrate D. Sagar told The Media.

Local support

The shrine, a structure made of stone and wood, is located in an uphill area of Uri’s Garkote. The fire gutted the top wooden structure completely and dislodged the stone walls. One estimate suggests the shrine was over 300 years old.

“We are seeking the local population’s support to erect the structure as soon as possible,” said Mr. Sagar.

Locals said the shrine was an attraction for the people living on both the sides of the LoC.

Place for bonding

“In pre-1947 era, people from far off regions would visit the shrine. Even after the setting up of the LoC, the shrine became a place of bonding for the divided families. Still, many people from Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir visit the shrine by taking the cross-LoC bus service,” said Niyaz Ahmad, a local.

Several shrines dedicated to saint Farid are spread both in India and Pakistan.

Farid’s poetry is also believed to be part of the Guru Granth Sahib and is revered equally by Sikhs.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti expressed concern over the damage caused to the shrine.

She directed the official “to visit the shrine complex and take necessary measures for restoration.”