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Two injured in accidental blast in Kashmir court

Srinagar, Friday, February 22, 2008:

At least two people were injured when a grenade exploded in the recovery room of a court in Srinagar, summer capital of Indian administered Kashmir Friday, leading to a fire.

The recovery room serves as a store for seized items and evidence materials produced in the court.

The incident occurred in the noon, apparently due to mishandling of a hand grenade which exploded, police said.

An in-charge police office was injured in the incident which sparked off a fire in the complex.

A senior lawyer was also injured.

The court is situated just metres away from the busy city centre Lal Chowk.

The recovery room houses recoveries related to cases since 1930, decades before the independence of India and Pakistan and conflict in Kashmir.

With frequent recoveries of automatic weapons and ammunition after the outbreak an anti-India armed insurgency in 1989, the recovery room has turned into a mini-ammunition depot.

Fire tenders and bomb squad rushed to spot and controlled the fire in a few hours, police said.

A senior state police officer Afdul Mujtaba said, "The sound of a blast was heard from inside the godown this morning."

"Our men almost took out all the stuff lying inside the godown," he said.

Major casualties were averted as the place was fairly empty at the time of the blast with most lawyers having gone out to offer Friday prayers at the local mosques.

An eyewitness said that Muhammad Shafi, the incharge of the ammunition room had just entered the room when the blast occurred.

"I saw him entering the room. Suddenly there was an explosion," the eyewitness said.

The lawyers and officials of the court say the blast in the ammunition room could have resulted in a disaster.

Nazir Ahmad Ronga, President Kashmir Bar Association, said that at least four judges sit adjacent to the ammunition room in the ground floor of one of the buildings of the lower court.

"It is a dangerous place to work," he said. "The ammunition has been lying there for the past 18 years."

"We have been asking the Chief Prosecuting Officer (CPO) to shift the ammunition dump somewhere else but nothing has happened," he added.



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