The controversy over the extension of the disputed temple adjacent to historic monument of Charminar was now threatening to snowball in to a major political crisis in Andhra Pradesh. Angered over the alleged pro-Hindutva attitude of the state government and the police, Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen has threatened to withdraw the support from the Kiran Kumar Reddy government.
As the Congress government in the state is surviving on a razor thin majority in the 294 member assembly, withdrawal of support by seven MLAs of Majlis can sound a death knell for the government.
The party was infuriated over the arrest of seven of its MLAs and one MLC by the police when they staged a protest against the extension of the disputed structure at Charminar on Sunday morning. The police also got the mobile connections of the MLAs including the floor leader Akbaruddin Owaisi.
MIM President and Lok Sabha member from Hyderabad Asaduddin Owaisi told a media conference in Hyderabad that party's executive will meet at 11 am on Monday to discuss the question of withdrawing the support from the state Congress government and Manmohan Singh led government at the centre.
"By permitting the construction of another structure over the temple, Congress has revived the memories of 6 December 1992. This has exposed the communal face of Congress and Kiran Kumar Reddy government. We had already repeatedly warned the chief minister that there was a limit four our patience but he did not take it seriously," he said.
The seven MLAs and one MLC were later released by the police in the evening but the damage seems to have been done and the MIM said that it had taken a serious note of the objectionable role played by the police and the government on the issue of "illegal temple" over the last fortnight.
He said that that the government used the police to allow the illegal construction work at Charminar in open violation of the orders of AP high court. "On minorities day Kiran Kumar Reddy has given Muslim minority the gift of his communal mind set," Owaisi said.
He said that the act of the state government and the police had created unrest and disquiet among the Muslims in Andhra Pradesh. But he urged them to maintain peace and wait for the future course of action his party will announce.
A curfew like situation was prevailing in the old city of Hyderabad where all the roads leading towards Charminar were sealed off with barbed wires by the police to prevent any protest demonstration by the Muslims.
All the vehicles were diverted and shops were closed and the entire area was surrounded by hundreds of armed policemen. When the MIM MLAs tried to protest, they were taken into custody. They included Akbaruddin Owaisi, Ahmad Pasha Quadri, Virasat Rasool Khan, Mumtaz Ahmad Kham, Afsar Khan, Moazzam Khan and Ahmad Balala and MLC Altaf Razvi.
The work of laying a tarpaulin shed was taken up on a day when Hindu organisations including Bhagyanagar temple protection committee and BJP had threatened to take a procession to Charminar to complete the work.
AP high court had ordered that the status of October 31 should be maintained at the temple and no changes should be allowed. However the state government officials claimed that today's work was not a violation of court order as the shed was very much there on October 30.
Hyderabad city Police Commissioner Anurag Sharma said that the police had nothing to do with the work and it was discharging its duty of maintaining peace. The work was supervised by the civic officials, he said.