Disturbances limited to raising of slogans, hurling stones
Barring stray incidents of stone-hurling at the police near Charminar and some bylanes around it, prompting authorities to use mild force to disperse the agitated crowds, old city remained peaceful on Friday.
Police administration, which made elaborate arrangements to meet any eventuality anticipating outbreak of trouble, heaved a sigh of relief as the disturbances were limited only to raising slogans, hurling stones and a brief use of lathis to disperse the crowds. The windscreen of a car was damaged in stone-pelting near Khilwath locality.
The police strategy of aggressive posturing and using the tactic of persuasion using the peace committee members and community elders seemed to have paid off. Even as ‘namazis’ started to trickle into the Mecca Masjid for Friday prayers, the police barricaded routes around Charminar. If the five-foot high metal barricades and rolls of concertina wire were used to seal off the road, policemen in riot-gear and stationing of ‘Vajra’ vehicles near Charminar communicated the message that the police would not tolerate any violence.
Locking their hands and forming a human cordon, peace volunteers and plainclothes policemen formed themselves into cordons to physically prevent people from going towards Charminar. However, a majority of ‘namazis’ went away in other directions, while a small group of youngsters raised slogans. The quick intervention by peace committee volunteers and later from policemen made the youth disperse but only to hurl stones at the police from bylanes. This forced the police to use their lathis and chase them.
Disapproving of the violence, many ‘namazis’ complained that these disturbances were tarnishing the image of the historic masjid. “It has become a weekly affair for these trouble-makers to gather outside the masjid. Friday prayers are important for us, but due to these disturbances it’s becoming difficult even to visit the masjid,” a senior citizen, M.A. Sayeed rued. Due to these disturbances, the general public, shop owners and even policemen are being kept on tenterhooks, he observed. The shops around Charminar closed briefly during the afternoon prayers, but opened immediately after the brief disturbance. Commissioner of Police, Anurag Sharma, personally supervised the arrangements.