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Tight security for Friday prayers at Mecca Masjid
Syed Amin Jafri in Hyderabad
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May 24, 2007 22:31 IST

The Hyderabad Police has made elaborate security arrangements for the Friday prayers at Mecca Masjid, in the wake of the bomb blast and subsequent police firing incidents last Friday in which 14 people were killed and over 50 were injured.

The City police also made security arrangements at the other major mosques in the city. The police also installed closed circuit TV cameras at vantage points in Mecca Masjid so that the police could observe the movement of any person from outside.

Door Frame Metal Detectors have also been placed at the entrances to the mosque and the police also decided to deploy personnel with handheld metal detectors also to provide strict security at the Masjid.

Mobile phones will not be allowed to be taken inside Mecca Masjid. Those carrying mobile phones will have to deposit them at the gate. This is the first time that mobile phones are not to be allowed inside the Masjid.

"We are getting good cooperation from the people and hope that the Friday prayers will pass off peacefully," Hyderabad City Police Commissioner Balwinder Singh told media persons after a high-level review meeting on Thursday.

Minority Welfare Minister Mohammed Ali Shabbir reviewed the long-term security measures at Mecca Masjid and four other major and historic mosques and the Haj House in the city.

It was decided to have permanent security system in place at these mosques.

"We will explain to Muslim religious and political leaders that the situation has now changed and they should cooperate with the government for the safety of worshippers," Shabbir said.

The review meeting was attended by the Police Commissioner, Hyderabad District Collector R V Chandravadan, and senior officials of State Archaeology and Minority Welfare Departments.

The minister said it was decided that six door-frame metal detectors and five hand-held metal detectors would be deployed permanently at the three entrances of Mecca Masjid. It was also decided to install three dragon lights and 21 CCTV cameras, with a facility of 30 days' recording, at different points inside the Masjid.

A control room would be set up outside the Masjid.

The Minority Welfare and State Archaeology Departments, which are responsible for the upkeep of the mosque, would oversee the implementation of the security measures. The security equipment is estimated to cost Rs 30 lakh. In all, 24 people would be recruited to handle the security gadgets and CCTVs at the Masjid.

The CCTVs would help in monitoring the movements of visitors, including worshippers and tourists to the Masjid. A cloakroom would be opened near the entrance where all visitors would be required to deposit their belongings before entering the Masjid.

Since last Friday's bomb blast was triggered with a mobile phone, the city police are also contemplating installing jammers in the Masjid to jam mobile signals in the area.

The Archaeology Department and the AP State Wakf Board will also install metal detectors and other security equipment at Royal Mosque in the public gardens adjacent to the state legislative assembly complex, and Mallepally, Khairatabad and Toli mosques.

The police commissioner said that the police were making progress in the investigation of Mecca Masjid blast and added that 'we have sent our teams wherever we felt necessary.'

The Special Investigation Unit probing the blast has recorded the statements of eyewitnesses, injured people and mosque workers.

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