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Tension in Hyderabad: Cong leaders try to placate MIM

By Sreekumar
Hyderabad, Nov 13: Congress leaders in Andhra Pradesh tried to persuade the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) not to harp on the Bhagyalakshmi temple issue even as the situation remained tense here for a third consecutive day.

MIM withdrew support to the state government yesterday in protest against the decision to construct a canopy over the Bhagyalakshmi temple that abutts the historic Charminar. Ruing the withdrawal of support, AP Congress chief Botsa Satyanarayana expressed hope that the MIM will understand the ruling party's compulsions.

He said that the government had neither flouted the law nor had it hurt the sentiments of any community. However, MIM president Asaduddin Owaisi stressed, "Once we take a decision, we don't go back on it." This prompted Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy to convene an emergency cabinet meeting yesterday.

Opposition parties too discussed the issue but both the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) did not specify their stand on the same.

Today, some incidents of stone pelting were reported from the old city of Hyderabad. In view of the communal tension, police and central paramilitary forces maintained a vigil around the Charminar. Neither the local shopkeepers nor the public were allowed to go near the 400-year-old monument.

An attempt by Hindu outfits to march to the Bhagyalakshmi temple was nipped in the bud as police took the organisers including BJP functionaries into custody. With the transport corporation cancelling as many as 157 bus services and all educational institutions in the old city declaring a holiday, there was an eerie calm in the area.

According to reports, some MIM supporters pelted stones at vehicles near their party headquarters. A TV channel's van is said to have been among the targets. Police resorted to a lathi charge after their efforts to control the mob failed. Deputy Commissioner Akun Sabharwal has urged the people not to heed rumours.

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