Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Friday expressed regret over the damage caused to two mosques and a temple in the premises of Telangana secretariat which is being demolished to pave way for the construction of a new official complex.
“I am sorry about the incident. This happened unexpectedly. It should not have happened. The government’s intention is to build a new secretariat complex by demolishing the old buildings without causing any damage to the temple or the mosques,” an official release from the chief minister’s office quoting KCR said.
The demolition of two mosques – Masjid Dafaatir-e-Muatamadi and Masjid-e-Hashmi and Nalla Pochamma temple, a Hindu shrine, which had been part of the secretariat complex for decades – kicked up a controversy evoking protests from the religious groups.
Muslim groups strongly protested the demolition of mosques without consulting the Islamic religious heads. “One cannot shift the mosque from its original place. Once a mosque, always a mosque,” Hamid Mohammad Khan, president of Jamaat-e-Islami, Telangana chapter, told Hindustan Times.
Leaders of the United Muslim Forum led by Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) president and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, condemned the demolition of two mosques in the premises of the old secretariat in Hyderabad and demanded their immediate reconstruction.
“The tragic and unconstitutional demolition of the two mosques caused pain and agony to the Muslims. If the government failed to take steps for reconstruction of the demolished mosques at the same place without any delay, Muslims would be forced to launch a strong protest,” a statement from the UMF said.
Hyderabad-based political outfit Majlis-Bachao Tehreek (MBT) sought the intervention of the Central Wakf Board in the matter and urged it to take appropriate action. “We are also lodging a complaint with the police against the chief minister and the state government for demolishing the mosques thereby hurting the sentiments of Muslims,” said MBT spokesperson Amjadulla Khan.
Bharatiya Janata Party state official spokesman K Krishna Sagar Rao warned KCR of serious consequences and backlash from Hindus across the state of Telangana for demolishing a Hindu Temple in the state secretariat complex.
“Destroying a temple is a blasphemy. The KCR government has undertaken an insulting and insinuating act of demolishing Hindus’ place of worship unilaterally. He has considered neither the sanctity of the temple, emotions of those who pray there nor the sentiments of the Hindus in the state,” Rao said.
The chief minister, according to the official statement, said the temple and the mosques were damaged after debris fell on them while demolishing the secretariat buildings adjacent to them.
He declared that in the new Secretariat premises, a new temple and mosque would be constructed in a much bigger area. The CM added he would soon have a meeting with the temple and mosque authorities over the matter.
Meanwhile, the state high court on Friday stayed the demolition of secretariat buildings till Monday and asked the government to submit the details of permissions obtained for demolition.
A division bench of the state high court comprising chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B Vijayasen Reddy granted the stay order after hearing a public interest litigation petition filed by Professor P L Vishweshwar Rao, Convenor Telangana Democratic Forum.
The petitioner complained that the demolition was being carried out without following the due procedure of law and more specifically, the procedure laid down under the Demolition and Construction Rules.