HYDERABAD, INDIA, November 8, 2012 (Khaleej Times): Hyderabad, which has not faced any communal trouble for quite some time now, seems to be grappling with the problem of late, particularly after a dispute over some construction activity at an old temple adjoining the historic Charminar in the Old City. Following the activity in the Bhagya Lakshmi temple adjacent to the 16th century monument, tempers ran high in the communally sensitive old city areas, prompting police to step up vigil and impose prohibitory orders to prevent any outbreak of riots.
Trouble began when scaffoldings and other temporary structures appeared at the small temple last week, with local Muslims backed by Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) opposing the move following apprehensions that the temporary structure would eventually lead to construction of a huge temple that could deface the historic Charminar.
They alleged that Hindu groups like Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and Hindu Vahini were trying to expand the temple in the name of erecting a temporary structure for decorating the premises for Diwali celebrations. However, the trustees of Bhagyalakshmi temple maintained that they were only replacing the worn-out bamboo structures with new ones ahead of the festive season.
Hindu groups claim that the temple erected on the eastern side of the historic monument, is over 150 years old, but several experts dispute the claim and point out that the devotees started visiting the shrine only about 50 years ago. With the growing influence of Hindu organisations in the city, the temple began gaining prominence and during festivals, they put up loudspeakers and play devotional songs.
Meanwhile, the High Court, acting on a couple of Public Interest Litigation petitions, last week ordered that status quo be maintained at Charminar and directed removal of temporary structure around the temple.