The relatively peaceful atmosphere is rather shattered now. Locals recall stones being hurled at a private nursing home and later attempts to damage Ambedkar’s statue.
An undercurrent of tension is palpable in the slum areas of Borabanda. People do not sleep properly and stare at any stranger with suspicion. Despite a police patrol team being stationed, fear is visible and the apprehensions of the locality people being attacked are aired frequently.
For the residents of Sivamma Papi Reddy Hills near Borabanda, every night is turning out to be a nightmare after some miscreants stoned cars parked in the labyrinthine lanes and bylanes and damaged their windscreens on the night of August 15. With no apparent motive being attributed to the vandalism, local residents suspect the involvement of members of a particular community in the incident. On the same night, miscreants also tried to damage a statue of Babasaheb Ambedkar at the colony crossroads.
Most of the residents here eke out their livelihood by operating taxis, while many others work as construction labourers, house keeping staff and autorickshaw drivers. Hitherto, there were no communal tensions, but last week’s vandalism has left deep scars on the collective psyche of the locality’s people and communal feelings have been sown. Though none goes on record blaming the other community, they make it clear that they suspect people of the other community to be behind the stoning of cars.
Police complaints about the windscreens of cars being damaged by unidentified persons have been lodged, but the investigations have not made any headway. The police have just posted a picket, but nothing has been done to clear the suspicions over the incident. Despite the presence of policemen, many residents feel that they could be attacked again.
Twenty-six slums, including BJR Nagar, Habeeb Fathima Nagar, Om Nagar and Mahatma Nagar, among others, sprang up at Shivamma Papi Reddy Hills over two decades ago. People from different communities have been staying there and they were strongly supported by late P. Janardhan Reddy, legislator of the erstwhile Khairatabad Assembly segment.
The relatively peaceful atmosphere is rather shattered now. Locals recall stones being hurled at a private nursing home and later attempts to damage Ambedkar’s statue. These incidents are followed by the damaging of cars now, leading to mutual distrust between communities, a new phenomenon being witnessed in the western parts of the city.
To make matters worse, the slum areas fall on the fringes of areas covered by Sanjeeva Reddy Nagar and Jubilee Hills police stations. “Recent religious processions organised by both the communities also contributed for the escalation of tensions. If the police fail to nip the trouble in the bud, it may lead to unnecessary tensions in this thickly populated area,” locality people say.
BJR Nagar Residents Welfare Association president P. Sanjeeva Rao says members from the two communities jointly organise programmes aimed at developing the slum. However, some trouble-mongers were vitiating the peaceful atmosphere, he argues. More than a dozen miscreants came in an auto and three motorcycles and damaged windscreens of cars with sticks and stones on August 15.
When contacted, Jubilee Hills Inspector D.V. Pradeep Kumar Reddy says efforts were on to trace the attackers. “We will also open history-sheets against the accused persons after arresting them,” he adds.