5 Majlis MLAs held over temple row

Controversy over shrine near Charminar

Police arrested five legislators belonging to the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) near Charminar on Sunday as tension mounted in the old city of Hyderabad over a temple row.

MIM floor leader in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, Akbaruddin Owaisi and four others were taken into custody while they gathered to ask police to stop expansion of Bhagyalaxmi Temple, abutting Charminar in the walled city of Hyderabad. Trouble has been brewing in the old city with a few Hindu groups trying to decorate the temple for Dasara and then Deepavali.

Akbaruddin alleged that despite the Andhra Pradesh High Court ordering status quo, some groups were carrying out the expansion work but police remained mute spectators. The police arrested and shifted them to Bolarum Police Station.

Following the arrests, Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi asked the government to implement the orders passed by the AP High Court at a media conference held at the Majlis headquarters at Darussalam. “The MIM executive committee will meet on Monday and decide on future course of action,” he said, alleging that the government was playing to the tunes of BJP.

Police Commissioner Anurag Sharma appealed to people to maintain peace and not to believe rumours. He reiterated that the police would implement court orders. Following the arrests, streets around the Charminar monument looked deserted with police sealing off all the routes. Barricades and barbed fencing were erected leading to the Charminar in view of a planned rally by some organisations planning to decorate the temple for Diwali.

Safety measures

“The police patrolling is intensified in the communally sensitive areas in the old city which witnessed communal clashes a few days ago,” the commissioner said. Prohibitory orders banning the assembly of five or more people remained in force in areas falling under five police station limits. A large number of policemen including the Rapid Action Force (RAF) were deployed. A curfew-like situation prevailed around Charminar.

Bhagyalaxmi Temple Protection Committee on Sunday announced plans to decorate the temple and perform a puja. The committee warned that if it was prevented from doing so, a rally would be taken out. The committee members including former BJP legislator Baddam Bal Reddy claimed that the temple was as old as Charminar and accused police of acting at the behest of MIM.

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