The bells started ringing and the faithful gathered for mass prayer as the Saint Lukes church here – one of the oldest in Kashmir — came alive after three decades on Wednesday just ahead of Christmas.
It was closed after the eruption of militancy in the valley in the 1990s.
The Church located near the Chest Diseases Hospital on the foothills of the Shankaracharya hillock in the Dalgate area of the city here will officially be thrown open for the public on Thursday, but the prayer was held on Wednesday, officials said.
The renovation of the Church – which is about 125 years old — was undertaken by the J-K Tourism Department under the “Smart City Project”.
The Church has been thrown open after 30 years after it was renovated and restored to its old glory, they said.
The renovated Church will be e-inaugurated on Thursday by J-K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, Church official Kennedy David Rajan said.
He said the Christian community is happy to see the Church being re-opened after its renovation.
Grace Paljor, principal of a private school here, said the community was glad that a 125-year-old church was restored to its old glory, and prayers were held thereafter three decades.
The minuscule Christian population in the valley usually visit the Holy Family Catholic Church, a Roman Catholic Church, at M A Road, and the one at Church Lane here for Sunday mass and Christmas mass.
There are churches in Baramulla and Gulmarg as well in the valley.
Overnight Shopian operation called off after militants escape
The overnight military operation in Nowgam village of south Kashmir’s Shopian district was called off on Thursday morning as militants, believed to be two in number, managed to escape, reports said.
Two army soldiers were injured in the initial exchange of fire in the encounter that broke out on Wednesday evening shortly after security forces cordoned off the area following a tip-off about the presence of militants there.
Today, massive searches were launched at the first light in the morning, however, no militant was found the present following which the joint cordon-and-search-operation launched by police and army was called off.
A top police officer said that the militants “possibly escaped in the initial phase of the encounter in which two soldiers were critically injured”.
The officer said that intelligence inputs suggested the presence of two militants including a foreigner in the area.
J&K: Unidentified person killed, SPO critically wounded in train accident
On Wednesday, an unidentified person was killed, and a special police officer (SPO) was critically wounded in a train accident in the Kakapora area of the Pulwama district.
An official told the news agency that an unidentified person was hit by the speedy train who died on Kakapora. An SPO identified as Shabir Ahmed, while trying to save the unknown person, was also hit and critically wounded.
“The injured SPO was critically wounded and is being treated at SMHS hospital,” a doctor said, adding that his condition is very bad.
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