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Sunday, April 14, 2024  
05 Shawwal 1445  

Hyderabad treads towards normalcy after day of unrest over alleged blasphemy

Police, paramilitary action saves minority community members from blood-thirsty mob
Barbed wire on one of the roads leading to Rabi Plaza. Photos courtesy Umair Ali
Barbed wire on one of the roads leading to Rabi Plaza. Photos courtesy Umair Ali

HYDERABAD: Markets and businesses in parts of Hyderabad remained shut as the city saw a semblance of normalcy on Monday following a restive Sunday when police and paramilitary used force to disperse a mob that wanted to set a five-storey building on fire over alleged desecreation of the Holy Quran.

The situation developed on Sunday evening after claims that burnt pages of the revered book were found in a building located in Saddar area that falls within Hyderabad Cantontment.

A large number of people gathered outside Rabi Plaza where the alleged desecration took place. Once the information spread, the crowd developed into a mob.

However, timely action by police ensured the situation did not result in any loss of life.

Hyderabad Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Amjad Shaikh told Aaj Digital that police baton charged the mob and used shelling to disperse them. “It was used as a last resort and over fears that the plaza might be set ablaze. It was only done after those leading the mob, including religious scholars, refused to leave the matter to the authorities even after assurance by police,” he said.

The SSP pointed out that the building has a cell phone market at the ground floor with 16 residential apartments on the remaining four stories. “Around 20-22 Hindu families live in that building,” SSP Shaikh said, adding that the mob wanted to burn down the entire building with people inside.

He said that the mob grew into several thousand strong, after which additional forces were summoned to the scene. Rangers barricaded entry points leading to the plaza while police used barbed wires to cordon off the area.

The police officer pointed out that force was used after concerns that the situation in Hyderabad could escalate. “We feared that there could be another Sialkot-like incident,” he said referring to the brutal murder of a Sri Lankan man whose body was then set ablaze by a mob over blasphemy allegations. The allegations were later found to be untrue.

SSP Shaikh added that the mob also tried to attack temples and halls belonging to the Hindu community but pre-emptive action by police foiled the attempts. “Three of those temples are located in the jurisdiction of Market police station, while one each in the remits of Phuleli and Pinyari police stations,” SSP Amjad said. He said that over a 100 people went to each location with the intention of arson but were dispered by police deployed there.

SSP Amjad added that several policemen were injured in efforts to disperse the crowd but it was ensured that the lives and properties of the members of the minority community remained safe. “The station house officer of Tando Yousuf has a head injury but he is not in danger, while six other cops were hurt.”

Markets and businesses are running as per routine in the Latifabad and Qasimabad areas of the city on Monday, but parts of Saddar remain sealed and most markets in the area are still closed.

The city administration has imposed Section 144 in the Hyderabad Range, imposing a ban on the assembly of four or more people in light of the situation.

Provincial ministers as well as social media lauded the law enforcers for ensuring peace.

Blasphemy case

The Cantonment police station has registered a case under sections 295-B (defiling of Holy Quran) and 34 (common intention) of the PPC on the complaint of Bilal, son of Bundo Khan Abbasi.

In the FIR, the complainant states that he was informed about the desereation of the Holy Quran in Rabi Plaza. When he went there, he along with 8-10 other people found that someone had burnt pages of the holy book.

The complaint states in the FIR that one Maulana Amin Zikriya showed him burnt pages near an elevator. After seeing the evidence, he inquired from a sanitary worker if he knew the identity of the individual who had done this.

Upon not receiving any reply from the said sanitary worker, he handed him over to the police along with the burnt pages to the police.

Police confirmed that they have a sanitary worker in their custody. He was also presented in court which handed him to the police on a seven-day physical remand.

48 people booked over violence

A first information report (FIR) has been registered against those involved in Sunday’s violence on the complaint of Cantonment police sub-inspector Airaf Gul Awan.

It was registered under the following Sections of the PPC:

  • 353 (assault or act to deter a public servant from discharge his duty)
  • 147 (punishment for rioting)
  • 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon)
  • 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object)
  • 427 (mischief causing damage amounting to Rs50)
  • 337H(ii) - punishment for hurt by rash or negligent act)

At least 48 suspects were arrested in connection with Sunday’s violence. They were presented in court earlier today (Monday) and released on bail against surety bonds of Rs20,000 each.

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