People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 47

November 25, 2012


Hyderabad Simmering with

Communal Game Plans

M Srinivas


HYDERABAD is once again on tenterhooks as communal forces of both variety are systematically stoking communal passions with a clear eye on reaping political dividends. Towards this end they are using religious festivals as a platform to show off their strength and incite the other section. The police and the state machinery, which do not act firmly at the first instance to curb such dangerous activity of these groups, are later over-reacting and punishing the entire population by blockades and curfew like measures in the old city area.


The incidents of the last few months in the city make it clear that there is a systematic attempt, particularly by Sangh Parivar elements,  to stoke communal clashes. It is a common practice for Muslims to offer animal sacrifice on the occasion of Bakrid festival. This year Sangh outfits undertook a vicious campaign two months before Bakrid that a mass slaughter of cows is being planned for the festival and they would prevent that by direct action. They mobilised teams on all roads leading into the city to physically prevent the transport of cattle for the festival. Last month they attacked vehicles, siezed the cattle and placed them in gau shalas run by Sangh outfits. Although this led to clashes in few places, the administration and police appeared to have totally surrendered to Sangh forces and did not bother about these militant attacks. The government too preferred to look the other way even when Sangh outfits brazenly announced that they would on their own implement cow slaughter prevention act.


Recently those going in a lorry for immersing the idol of Durga in Hussain Sagar attacked a person in Musheerabad who was taking a cow. This led to anger among fellow community members and they attacked a temple on the roadside, leading to escalation of tension and round of attacks. It may be recalled that the normally peaceful Musheerabad area witnessed clashes in 2010 following a belligerent rally on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti. The systematic attempts of Sangh Parivar came to light with arrest of three Bajrang Dal activists around four months ago for attempting to create communal tension. These youth had thrown pieces of beef meat in front of a temple in Saidabad area of the city. This had led to stabbings and imposition of curfew in that part. Another youth connected with Sangh Parivar was arrested after he made a similar attempt in another area.


Despite these arrests and exposure, such attempts continue to be made to spark communal tension. Another method of sparking communal clashes was seen recently in Karwan sabzi mandi when miscreants burned saffron flags put up in the area. Two days later the green flags were burnt and things led to damaging of houses and pelting of stones by members of both communities. Rumors about attacks are also being regularly circulated to keep the tension high. Some incidents of theft of idols in a few temples were also used by these elements to spread misinformation. There was a major communal clash in Sangareddy town, around 80 km from Hyderabad.


It is in this context that the latest flashpoint surrounding Bhagya Lakshmi temple abutting the historic monument of Charminar has come to the fore. On the eve of Diwali festival, attempt was made to build a durable roof over the temple late in the night. Majlis MLAs, supporters and others came to the site and held a midnight dharna protesting this attempt. BJP corporators and Sangh Parivar elements also resorted to protests leading to high tension. MIM objected on the grounds that putting up a tin roof is only part of systematic attempt to expand the temple while the Sangh Parivar outfits claimed that it was only a decoration for diwali festival. Meanwhile the high court ordered maintaining of status quo as of October 30, 2012 while dealing with a petition filed by MIM legislators.


The state government did not implement this order of high court and allowed covering of tarpaulin over the temple and other decoration. This led to MIM announcing withdrawal of its support to Congress state government and UPA government at the centre. Meanwhile the Sangh Parivar outfits gave a call of ‘Chalo Bhagya Lakshmi temple’ and mobilised people for darshan in the midst of severe tension in old city that had started to rock with clashes, stone throwing incidents etc. Even the MIM attempted to increase the tension by its actions. The ordinary people of the old city are living a life of terror with rumors floating about impending attacks. The BJP is trying its best to intensify the issue by making provocative statements. They claim that this temple preceded construction of Charminar and that is why the original name of Hyderabad was Bhagya Nagar. The usual distortions of history for their communal ends. Actually this small makeshift structure came up around 1979 and continued amidst protests. The high court while acknowledging existence of temple in its recent order however said that since Charminar is a protected monument there can be no construction activity around 100 metres from the site. But the state government has utterly failed in dealing with this issue by allowing decoration of the temple and bowing down to pressure from Sangh Parivar.


On the other hand, the MIM is also fully involved in the communal gameplan. Its president and MP Asaduddin Owaisi in a recent TV interview acknowledged that he wont mind being target of criticism from BJP as that would be beneficial to his party. MIM is also using religious festivals like Milad-un-Nabi for communal mobilisation. It is holding big bike rallies and decorating the old city with religious symbols. There was a conscious attempt to provoke the other community members. Therefore, for the MIM to now charge that Congress is appeasing Sangh Parivar elements and therefore withdraw its support is hardly convincing. It has preferred to remain silent so far even as the Congress government went on heaping greater burdens on people of the state and particularly Hyderabad in the form of higher electricity charges, water charges, property tax hikes etc. But the latest move is a clear attempt to distance itself from the Congress party in order to escape the clearly growing anger of the people against the ruling party. The CPI(M) and other Left parties have appealed to the people to remain calm and not be swayed by communal forces attempts to polarise them. They have held a human chain in Abids area making this appeal.