Business centres and shops remained closed in most parts of Hyderabad on Monday following unrest over an incident of alleged desecration of the Holy Quran.
Law enforcement agencies had resorted to tear gas shelling and fired into the air in different areas of Hyderabad on Sunday as enraged crowds had forced their way into a business plaza by breaking windowpanes to get hold of the man they accused of desecrating the Holy Quran.
The unrest continued till the early hours of Monday as officials teargassed the unruly mob which tried to gain entry to the business centre.
Police force from adjoining smaller districts was called into the city to supplement Hyderabad police’s efforts in maintaining law and order.
Rangers personnel remain deployed around the six-story Rabi Plaza on Monday while an armoured personnel carrier had also been sent to the area.
Furthermore, Rangers personnel blocked streets connecting different roads and thoroughfares with the mobile market the plaza was located in. Police also laid down barbed wire in an effort to block streets, and Rangers were not allowing people to enter the affected area.
The Hyderabad District Bar Association (HDBA) observed a day of mourning due to Sunday’s unrest.
Meanwhile, a wine shop on Risala Road — located at a distance from the plaza — was ransacked. Trash pickers and labourers were spotted collecting pieces of glass strewn on the ground.
FIR registered against those involved in violence
Separately, police registered a first information report (FIR) against those involved in Sunday’s violence on the complaint of Cantonment police sub-inspector Airaf Gul Awan.
The case was registered under Sections 353 (assault or act to deter a public servant from discharge his duty), 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 427 (mischief causing damage amounting to Rs50) and 337H(ii) (punishment for hurt by rash or negligent act) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
Since Sunday, 48 suspects have been arrested.
The recent FIR said that the suspects were involved in ransacking and aerial firing while armed with lathis, iron rods and weapons.
It stated that they had damaged private and government property and obstructed officials from discharging their official duties. The complainant said he and other officials also resorted to aerial firing to disperse the crowd.
Families find alternative accommodation
Several Hindu and Muslim families living in the business plaza shifted to alternative accommodation following Sunday’s unrest. The electricity also remained disconnected on Monday.
“We have been without power since Sunday,” said Mohammad Iqbal, a resident of the plaza. According to him, the gas supply had also been cut off.
Speaking to Dawn.com, SSP Hyderabad Amjad Sheikh said that the angry mob wanted to burn the flats belonging to the Hindu community for their alleged involvement in the incident.
He said that police had already registered an FIR against the alleged incident but protesters were still hell-bent on entering the plaza. The official said that the incident was brought under control by teargassing the crowd.
“We had to opt for baton-charging the crowd. They also tried to attack several temples but police foiled the attempt. We had anticipated that such attacks would follow, therefore, deployment was done pre-emptively,” he said.
According to the Hyderabad DC Fuad Ghaffar Soomro, the mob tried to attack Bahwani temple in Mochi Gali, Gurpat temple in Seroghat area and Hindu Sochi community hall Mochi Mohallah Seroghat on Sunday evening but police foiled the attempt.
On Sunday, a case was registered under sections 295-B (defiling of Holy Quran) and 34 (common intention) of the PPC on the complaint of Bilal, son of Bundo Khan Abbasi.
The complainant claimed he had learnt that someone had burnt pages of Holy Quran in Rabi Plaza. He went inside and learnt that someone had burnt Holy Quran. Soon, he said, eight to 10 persons entered the plaza.
Bilal claimed that Maulana Amin Zikriya showed him burnt pages near an elevator. He asked a sanitary worker whether he knew the identity of the man who had done this, but he remained silent.
According to Bilal, he got hold of a sanitary worker and took possession of some of the burnt pages. He then handed over the man, along with the burnt pages, to police.
A policeman was assaulted while a police mobile was damaged by a mob. A sanitary worker was also arrested by police.