ANDHRA PRADESH

Burning of flag triggers off trouble in Kishanbagh

HYDERABAD DEC. 4. The trouble at Kishanbagh on Thursday broke out after one Mohd. Hameed (40) allegedly set afire a flag and pole erected on the premises of a place of worship belonging to a community at Arsha Mahal "due to a land dispute," the Cyberabad police said.

In a press release, the Cyberabad Police Commissioner, M. Mahender Reddy, said two boys of the locality -- Mohd. Rizwan and Syed Naveed, both aged about 13 years, -- witnessed Hameed burning the flag. Later, Hameed, along with the boys, committed theft in the shop of a local, Ayub, who lives near the place of worship. While Ayub and his wife, Suhana Begum, caught hold of the boys, Hameed managed to escape.

On coming to know about the alleged `misdeed' by Hameed, community members gathered in a large number and began attacking the other community. Tension escalated in the area as scores of people, wielding swords, came out onto the road and attacked others. Even as trouble was brewing, Afzal, a victim of knife attack, stepped out of his house to take his autorickshaw parked in the street. He was stabbed to death by the rioting mobs. Mobs set on fire two autorickshaws, damaged three vehicles and looted four shops on the main road. Passers-by were attacked by the mobs who went on the rampage.

The Rajendranagar police Sub-Inspector, Krishna Prasad, along with some men, reached the spot on receipt of information that sword-wielding youngsters had assembled in the area. A while later, the Rajendranagar ACP, John Wesley, too, came to the spot. Even as the police tried to pacify the irate crowds they ran riot. The warring groups pelted stones at each other and the police.

The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen MLA, Asaduddin Owaisi, warned that situation might go out of hand if the Government failed to apprehend the culprits who killed Afzal. "We condemn the flag burning and also protest the retaliatory attacks on innocents," Mr. Owaisi said addressing a gathering of youths after laying the body of Afzal to rest.

The Ranga Reddy Collector visited the spot and met the victims. He directed the Revenue Divisional Officer to assess the damage and sanction ex-gratia amount for the victims. Meanwhile, the police have formed a Special Investigation Team to nab the accused person and some suspects have been taken into custody. The police have appealed to people to cooperate for restoration of peace.

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