HYDERABAD: All Hindu families living in the six-storey Rabi Plaza, which was mobbed by enraged people on Sunday evening following alleged desecration of Holy Quran by someone inside, have left their respective apartments to move to safe places.

A visit to the plaza on Monday morning revealed that stairs of first and second floors were littered with glass strewn as a result of yesterday’s stoning from outside by unruly mob. Electricity supply to the plaza remained disconnected as the mob had cut wires at the plaza’s gate.

The plaza has 30 residential flats — five on each floor — and stands in the midst of Saddar Bazaar.

“Everyone has left. Only we are staying on; and we have also temporarily shifted to some other accommodation,” said one Hindu resident. Occupants of the flats are either tenants or owners. Some of them are tenants of Muslim owners, he added. Out of 30 families, around 18-20 are Hindu living in their flats.

Teargas shelling by police continued on Risala Road till Sunday-Monday midnight. The area remained under darkness. An uneasy calm prevailed in the city Monday. Mobile markets located in different plazas of the area remained closed. Shops in the bazaars of Saddar, Tilak Incline, Lajpat Road, Cantonment and district council shopping centres and other commercial areas in Latifabad remained closed.

Some youths tried to move towards the plaza but Rangers personnel scared them away.

Heavy contingent of police has been deployed in the Saddar area. Police force from adjoining smaller districts was called to the city to restore law and order by assisting the Hyderabad police. An armoured personnel carrier (APC) was deployed outside the affected plaza. The law enforcers have blocked streets, leading to the plaza, with barbed wires.

Suspect remanded

The sanitation worker who was arrested following the incident was remanded in police custody for seven days after he was produced in court amidst tight security. The Cantonment police had registered an FIR (71/22) on the complaint of Ayraf Gul Awan, a sub-inspector at the police station.

A total of 48 suspects arrested during the disturbances were produced in a court, which granted them bail in a sum Rs20,000 each.

The FIR mentioned between 150 and 200 as unknown suspects. The FIR said that the arrested suspects were involved in ransacking and aerial firing on roads while carrying lathis, iron rods and weapons. They had damaged private and public properties and created obstruction in the discharge of official duties of police, the complainant said, adding that he and his colleagues also fired shots into the air to disperse the crowd.

The blasphemy FIR (70/22) was lodged by Bilal Abbasi, a resident of Dadan Shah Mohallah.

Hyderabad SSP Amjad Sheikh claimed that the mob wanted to burn flats of Hindu community people living in plaza out of frenzy. He added: “Unruly mobs tried to attack temples at four places but police foiled their attempt. We had anticipated such attacks would follow and, therefore, deployed police there”.

Published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2022

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