Hyderabad: Violence broke out once again near Charminar in the old city of Hyderabad on Friday over a temple row. At least seven people were injured in stone pelting by an unruly mob, and baton charge by police. Teargas shells were also fired by the police to disperse the mob, which set afire four vehicles and damaged several other vehicles, witnesses said.
Trouble broke out soon after Friday prayers at the historic Mecca Masjid when a large number of people coming out of the mosque tried to proceed towards Charminar to offer 'salam' at a religious symbol abutting the monument. Policemen and paramilitary personnel, however, stopped them by setting up barricades. Raising slogans against the police and demanding that restrictions be lifted, the protestors started pelting stones at policemen and attacking vehicles and shops.
The police resorted to baton charge and fired several teargas shells to disperse the mob, which was pelting stones from three sides of the Charminar. Police said the situation has since been brought under control. Additional reinforcements were rushed to sensitive areas around Charminar. Home Minister Sabita Indra Reddy reviewed the situation with top police officials. She appealed to people to cooperate in maintaining peace.
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, which symbolizes the historic city. Muslim groups have been opposing attempts to expand the temple on the ground that it was illegal and had marred the beauty of the 400-year-old monument.
The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Nov 5 had ordered status quo as on Oct 30. However, the 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 Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) withdrew support to the government.