Old Hyderabad tense after fresh violence

Hyderabad, Nov 16: The old city of Hyderabad remained tense Friday after a fresh bout of violence near Charminar, which left injured 10 people, among them five policemen.

A curfew−like situation settled in the usually busy markets as police sealed all routes leading to the iconic monument.

Streets in the surrounding areas wore a deserted look as fear gripped people following the violent incidents in the afternoon.

The Charminar area was rocked by violence after Friday prayers, breaking the fragile peace that was returning to the commercial hub after days of tension over a temple abutting the monument.

As many as 10 people, including five policemen, were injured in stone throwing by an unruly mob and baton charge and bursting of teargas shells by police.

Police Commissioner Anurag Sharma said around 2,000 people, who came out from the historic Mecca Masjid after Friday prayers, pelted stones on policemen deployed near Charminar and its surrounding areas.

The mobs set afire five four−wheelers and five two−wheelers at Pathargatti, Mitti Ka Sher, Kali Kaman, Esra Hospital and near Charminar police station.

The police chief said the mobs also resorted to stone throwing in Khilwath, Laad Bazar, Machli Kaman, Rein Bazar and Yakhuthpura Railway Station. He described the situation as tense but under control.

Home Minister Sabita Indra Reddy told reporters that the situation in the old city was under control.

“Additional forces were mobilised and if necessary, more forces will be deployed,” she said while appealing to people to cooperate to maintain peace.

The communal tension during the last few days has crippled economic activity, severely affecting the traders in the centuries−old markets.

The Charminar area, famous for pearls, bangles, clothes and the eateries, is the main commercial hub and lifeline of old city, the region to the south of Musi river.

Member of Parliament from Hyderabad and Majlis−e−Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) president Asaduddin Owaisi, who visited Mecca Masjid in the evening, blamed Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy for the violence.

He accused police of committing excesses and demanded immediate release of innocent Muslim youths.

The communally sensitive old city had been witnessing sporadic incidents of violence for the last two weeks following a row over the Bhagylakshmi temple abutting Charminar.

Muslim groups have been opposing attempts to expand the temple on the ground that it was illegal and had marred the beauty of the around 400−year−old monument.

The Andhra Pradesh High Court Nov 5 had ordered status quo as on Oct 30.

However, erection of a canopy over the temple structure, in alleged violation of the court orders last Sunday, triggered violent protests.

The government claimed that it was allowed only to implement court orders.

Accusing the Congress government of colluding with communal elements, the MIM withdrew support to the government.

IANS