Tension prevailed in the old city of Hyderabad after an attempt to expand the Bhagya Lakshmi temple adjacent to the historic Charminar evoked protests late last night.
In a high drama which started after midnight and continued till Thursday morning, digging work began adjacent to Charminar in a bid to expand the temple, which had been a bone of contention for several decades. As news of the digging near Charminar spread, a large number of people gathered to protest against the work and the alleged inaction of the police. Local Majlie-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen legislator Ahmad Pasha Quadri also reached the spot with other party leaders and demanded an immediate stop to the construction work.
When the police refused to intervene, saying the work was within the limits of the shed put up by the temple earlier, people sat on a dharna. At around 3 am, the deputy commissioner of police (south zone) under whose jurisdiction the area falls, reached the place. He discussed the matter with the Quadri and other protestors and assured them that no construction will be allowed beyond the earlier structure.
The legislator alleged that attempts were being made to turn the new temporary shed into a permanent structure which will damage the more than four centuries old monument. As the arguments continued and the number of protestors swelled, additional police and paramilitary force reinforcements rushed to the place.
MIM leaders alleged that a deliberate attempt was being made to gradually expand the temple at a place where there was none till the '70s. "There was only a stone and it was gradually turned into a concrete structure in violation of the law governing the historical monument," said Quadri.
Following this incident, the police was put on alert in all the communally sensitive parts of the old city. Massive police deployment was also being maintained around Charminar.
The temple incident is the latest in a series of incidents of a communal nature over the last two weeks. Tension was still prevailing in Kulsumpura and Sabzimandi areas of Hyderabad where communal clashes took place on Monday night over the burning of a religious flag by miscreants. Stone-pelting was reportedly continuing for the last three days despite the presence of the police.
Hyderabad police commissioner Anurag Sharma said some outsiders were apparently involved in the attempts to create communal trouble in the city.