Normal life was disrupted in Kashmir Valley on Tuesday following a strike called by separatists after the shrine of Dastageer Sahib was gutted in fire even as chief minister Omar Abdullah cut short his foreign visit and rushed back home to visit the holy complex.
The Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, who returned from London, drove straight to the 200-year-old shrine complex for a first hand assessment of the damage and issued instructions for early start of work for its reconstruction.
He said the shrine will be reconstructed as per its old design and architecture.
"The holy shrine will be restored to its original glory and the best possible expertise engaged in the process of restoration," he told reporters, as he appealed for calm.
Schools, colleges, offices, shops and other commercial establishments were closed due to the strike called by almost all separatist groups including both factions of Hurriyat Conference and JKLF.
Public transport was off the roads across the Valley while few private vehicles could be seen on roads. Attendance in government offices was thin as employees could not go for work due to lack of transport facilities.
Work in courts was also affected as Kashmir High Court Bar Association, the representative body of lawyers, had also called for a one-day strike.
The separatists called for the one-day strike over the destruction of Dastageer Sahib shrine in a fire on Monday. They also demanded an impartial probe into the incident.
The state government imposed restriction on the movement of people and transport in six police station areas in the old city to maintain law and order in view of the clashes after the fire incident. Khanyar, where the shrine is located, is among the areas.
The state government has ordered a probe by Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, and also announced that the shrine will be reconstructed as per the old design.
The old city area witnessed violent protests yesterday after the blaze gutted the shrine and adjacent mosque. More than 50 persons including a dozen policemen were injured in the clashes. The holy relics were however safe.
The chief minister asked people to beware of divisive forces whose sole objective is to disrupt peace and harmony in the state.