Curfew continued in riot-hit parts of Hyderabad for the fourth day on Friday. Even though the situation remained peaceful, police were on high alert because of Friday prayers.
Police decided not to relax the curfew in all 25 police station areas since they anticipated trouble during Friday prayers. They have requested Muslims to pray in their homes.
Police Commissioner A.K. Khan told reporters that curfew, which was relaxed for two hours in 17 police station areas on Thursday, would continue without any relaxation Friday.
An eminent Islamic scholar has also ruled that Friday prayers were not a must in curfew-bound areas and appealed to Muslims to pray in their homes. Mufti Khaleel Ahmed, head of the Islamic university Jamia Nizamia, said Friday prayers in mosques are a must only when they can be offered without any disturbance and without endangering lives.
Home Minister P. Sabita Indra Reddy had earlier hinted that curfew could be relaxed for prayers but after a review meeting with Chief Minister K. Rosaiah and police top brass last night, she ruled out the relaxation.
Security has been tightened at all places of worship in Hyderabad and in districts like Adilabad, Mahabubnagar and Nizamabad. The chief minister has directed police to deploy additional forces to ensure peace during Friday prayers.
Meanwhile, no untoward incident has been reported from any part of the city since Tuesday night. However, the home minister made it clear that the curfew would continue till normalcy was restored.
The communal violence, which broke out following a dispute over putting up of religious flags, has so far claimed two lives and left over 150 injured.
Police have increased their probe into various incidents of violence. As many as 200 people have so far been arrested in connection with 67 cases of rioting. The arrests were made for attacks on places of worship, arson and looting and damage to public and private property.