Hyderabad, November 16 : The areas around Charminar resembled a war zone after Friday prayers following incidents of stone pelting followed by lathi charge and tear gas firing by the police. At least 10 people, including a policeman, were injured in the violent incidents.
Trouble began at about 1.20 pm when the police stopped a group of devotees, who came out of Mecca Masjid, from proceedings towards “Chilla” abutting Charminar to offer “Salaam”. The mob went back towards Mecca Masjid while raising slogans against the police and demanded that the restrictions be lifted. A few miscreants, who mingled among the devotees, started pelting stones at the police and para-military personnel and also damaged private vehicles.
In reaction, police resorted to lath charge and fired tear gas shells. Since the entire exit routes were sealed by the police by erecting barricades and barbed wires, the regular devotees who wanted to return to their houses peacefully were left with no option than to wait in the Mecca Masjid premises. A few of them even waved towards police seeking safe exit. However, they were asked to use the backside entrance of the mosque.
The other devotees who were returning to their homes were chased and beaten up by the police forces. Even those who were waiting at the corners of the road to avoid getting hurt in the stone pelting by miscreants and police lathi-charge were also dragged out by the cops and beaten up. They include a few elder persons and physically disabled.
The miscreants who managed to escape from the scene damaged some private vehicles belonging to the shop owners, who locked themselves in their shops at Pathergatti, Etebaar Chowk, Kotla Alijah, Moghalpura, Shalibanda and Lad Bazar. At least four vehicles were also set ablaze by the miscreants.
After about an hour, the situation was brought under control. Senior police officials including South Zone DCP Akun Sabharwal themselves monitored the situation. According to sources, more than 20 people have been taken into custody for the trouble. Additional forces were rushed to the Old City and pickets have been deployed in all the sensitive areas. The City Police has also intensified the patrolling in the trouble-affected areas.
The police sources claimed that all the trouble makers would be identified soon with the help of video footage that was recorded by the CC-TV cameras installed around the Charminar and Mecca Masjid.
Meanwhile, Home Minister P Sabita Indra Reddy reviewed the situation with top police officials and appealed to the people to cooperate in maintaining peace.