Fresh trouble in communally volatile Old Hyderabad


Hyderabad: Communal violence broke out in the Old City of Hyderabad for the third successive day Monday as groups of people took to the streets to attack each other despite the heavy presence of police and paramilitary forces.

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Shops in the markets around historic Charminar downed shutters as people returned home in panic. State-owned Road Transport Corp (RTC) also stopped plying buses on Charminar-Falaknuma road, the busiest road in the area.

Fresh incidents of violence were reported Monday afternoon from Shahali Banda, Moghalpura, Aliabad, Lal Darwaza, Shamsheergunj and other localities near the historic Mecca Masjid.

Trouble broke out in Shahali Banda when a group tried to attack a place of worship. Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas and used batons to hit out at the crowds. Clashes were also reported from adjoining localities, shattering the calm prevailed since late last night.

Police were having a tough time dealing with some resorting to pelting stones in the lanes and bylanes of the area. Police said additional forces, including the paramilitary Rapid Action Force, were being sent to sensitive areas to control the situation.

The trouble restarted just a couple of hours after Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K. Rosaiah told the state assembly that additional forces from Delhi and neighbouring states were reaching Hyderabad. Home Minister P. Sabita Indra Reddy met public representatives to review the situation.

The home minister, who had visited the old city Monday morning, told the state assembly that the situation was under control.

Tension gripped the communally sensitive old city after overnight clashes in and attacks on places of worship in several areas. The violence since Saturday night has left over 60 people injured.

Incidents of stabbing, arson, stone pelting, attacks on places of worship, shops and vehicles were reported from over a dozen areas well past midnight Sunday. Police opened fire in the air and lobbed tear gas to bring the situation under control.

Director General of Police Girish Kumar, who visited the troubled areas late Sunday, said adequate forces were being deployed to bring the situation under control.

Police have imposed prohibitory orders banning the assembly of five or more people in the old city and some communally sensitive areas of the new city.

Utter confusion prevailed among students appearing for Class 10 board examinations. The students and their parents were worried over their safety as several exam centres were located in troubled areas, but the authorities went ahead with the examinations amid tight security.

The violence, which broke out Saturday night in Moosabowli area of Hussaini Alam following a quarrel between two groups over religious flags, spread to new areas Sunday with mobs armed with stones, sticks and even petrol bombs taking to the streets.

Troublemakers attacked passers-by with knives and other sharp-edged weapons in Gowliguda, Falaknuma, Shamsheergunj and Chatrinaka areas after asking them to identify themselves.

Women and children were not spared either. About a dozen places of worship were targeted by unruly crowds, who also torched a few shops, a cattle shelter and vehicles.

Police Commissioner A.K. Khan has termed the incidents “pre-planned”. Seventy people have been arrested.

Though the situation is peaceful and normal life remained unaffected in other parts of Hyderabad and twin city of Secunderabad, police have stepped up security as a precautionary measure.

Life in Cyberabad, the IT district housing giants like Microsoft and Google, remained unaffected.