Hyderabad: Tension prevailed around Charminar, the symbol of Hyderabad, following protests against the expansion of a place of worship abutting the monument.

Police tightened security in the communally sensitive area in the old city. Fearing violence, many shopkeepers in the busy markets around did not open their shops on Thursday. Police said the situation was peaceful and they were taking all precautionary measures to maintain law and order.

Trouble began late on Wednesday night when a group of people took exception to the construction activity at the place of worship. They demanded that police stop the work as the expansion of the place of the worship space would affect traffic flow and mar the beauty of the monument, which is over 400 years old.

 Majlis-e-Ittehadul Musllimeen (MIM) legislator from Charminar constituency Ahmed Pasha Khadri and his supporters also rushed to the spot and staged a sit-in, accusing the police of merely being mute spectators. The local legislator alleged that the place of worship was being expanded repeatedly, and that there was a conspiracy behind the frequent expansion. He claimed that some years ago, there was no place of worship at Charminar.

 The protest continued till the early hours of Thursday. Senior police officials who rushed to the scene said that they would halt the construction work. However, tension was palpable in the usually busy markets around Charminar. The incident took place even as Kulsumpura and surrounding localities in the old city remained tense for the fourth day, after communal clashes on October 29.

Miscreants had set religious flags afire four days ago, sparking violence. Sporadic incidents of stone pelting were reported even on the third day after that incident, on Wednesday.


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