Shops gutted in Sopore fire, traders say they were ‘looted first’
Sopore, Jan 02: Twenty five shops were guttered in a devastating fire at the busy market in Sopore town of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district on Tuesday. According to reports goods worth lakhs of rupees were destroyed in the blaze, while no casualties were reported in the accident, which took place at General Bus Stand Sopore, a busy hub of shops dealing in hosiery, plastic goods and other products. Amin Lara, a shopkeeper told The Kashmir Monitor that he noticed the smoke and soon saw huge flames erupting from some of the shops. “The devastating fire spread quickly in no time with increasing speed, soon after a team of fire tenders rushed to the spot and started to douse the flames,” Amin said. A fireman on the spot said after receiving the information about the incident, as many as six fire tenders were rushed to the spot and as such they were able to control the fire in time. “It (fire) could have damaged more shops due to congestion in the market hadn’t we reached in time”. The cause of the fire was not immediately known. Anguished over the “failure” of the administration, President of Traders Federation Sopore, Mohammad Ashraf Ganai, alleged that the two dozen shops were gutted in the fire mishap, which were “first looted by burglars and then set ablaze”. Ganai said the administration has “completely failed to save the town from miscreants, who were not only burning shops but looting them as well”. “The strike call is against the rising theft incidents in Sopore town. Recently one of our colleauge, owner of gold jewelry shop, went missing and police is unable to trace him. There is a total failure from administration”, Gania alleged. He alleged that 25 shops including the office of Traders Federation were looted and set ablaze. “25 shops were looted during intervening night of January 1-2 and set ablaze. One complex housing 12 shops and a restaurant in Bus stand Sopore were completely gutted in fire before being looted by miscreants”, the president of the traders said. “I appeal people of Sopore to observe a complete shutdown on Wednesday so that the administration will wake up from the deep slumber,” Ganai told reporters after the mysterious fire incident.