Three persons were killed and two sustained injuries as police opened fire to quell a communal clash over the burning of a religious flag at Rajendranagar, near the communally sensitive Old City, on Wednesday.

As mobs resorted to arson, vandalism and stone-throwing, the police clamped curfew in the Rajendranagar police station limits of Cyberabad. Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan reviewed the situation with Director-General of Police B. Prasada Rao, who said the situation was under control. The Governor appealed to the people not to believe rumours.

Trouble started around 8 a.m. when members of the Sikh community at Sikh Chawni, near Kishanbagh, allegedly beat up local Muslim youth, accusing them of burning their flag. The police tried to defuse tension by holding talks with the elders of both communities.

But one group attacked some youngsters with swords. Soon, scores of people from both sides joined the clashes. Civilian and police vehicles parked on the roadside and a few houses were damaged or set on fire. Additional forces, including a BSF contingent, were deployed. “Caught between two mobs — one wielding swords and the other armed with stones and bricks — the police opened fire in the air,” an eyewitness said. However, the violent crowds appeared to have been preparing for a showdown with the police and rivals when the BSF personnel fired at them. Asaduddin Owaisi, Hyderabad MP and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen president, alleged that the police mishandled the situation, leading to the loss of lives. He urged the Governor to order an inquiry by a High Court judge.

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