Hyderabad: The opposition in Telangana is laying into chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) over the demolition of a Muslim place of worship and a Hindu shrine within the Secretariat complex, which is being demolished to make way for a brand new administrative hub.
Right after the damage to the places of worship was reported in the media, the chief minister issued an apology--which is untypical of him--promising to build new structures to appease both communities involved. The Muslim side of the matter, represented by Asaduddin Owaisi’s Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), accepted the KCR’s apology and his offer to make ample amends.
The BJP on the other hand, looking for a toehold in Telangana, seized the issue and demanded a temple right at the very spot where it stood.
The opportunity of creating a Babri-Ram Janmabhoomi-like controversy was not lost on Telangana’s political parties, and soon enough the Congress joined in, condemning the demolition and affecting hurt to religious sentiments.
State Congress president Uttam Kumar Reddy said the mosque and temple were held sacred by government employees working in the Secretariat. The old Secretariat itself was dear to Hyderabadis. “If the Secretariat demolition was bad enough and a Tughlaq-like decision, the damage of the temple and mosque has hurt the sentiments of people belonging to all communities,” he said.
Uttam Reddy found fault with the chief minister for not consulting the heads of the temple and mosque before carrying out the demolition. “KCR is trampling upon the religious sentiments of those people who made him what he is today. He will get a befitting reply from Hyderabadis at an appropriate time,” he said.
Congress Shabbir Ali referenced the Babri Masjid dispute and pointed out that the chief minister’s apology did not make a specific commitment that the demolished mosque would be rebuilt at the very spot.
Shabbir Ali said the demolition of the mosque and temple was carried out with the full knowledge of the chief minister. Even Owaisi, an ally of the TRS, was aware that the mosque was being razed but chose to make a round of the city’s hospitals on Thursday to divert people’s attention.
TPCC working president A. Revanth Reddy said the demolition would be remembered as ‘Black Day’. He said building on the Hussainsagar shore was disallowed and he would be moving the top court. He was addressing the media with ex-MP Konda Vishweswar Reddy and Shabbir Ali.
BJP demands temple at the same place
BJP state president Bandi Sanjay Kumar and BJP chief spokesperson K. Krishna Sagar Rao warned of a backlash from Hindus across the state for demolishing a temple.
“Destroying a temple is blasphemy. The KCR government has committing the insulting act of demolishing a Hindu religious place of worship unilaterally,” they said. They demanded that the Chief Minister visit the site and apologise for the demolition, and build a temple at the very same site.
BJP general secretary P. Muralidhar Rao told a virtual rally for Mahbubnagar and Nalgonda districts that the days of the TRS government were numbered. He said the curse of the temple goddess would haunt the Chandrashekar Rao government.
He also criticised the demolition of the Secretariet building in the middle of a global pandemic. “KCR has failed to lead the state from the front during the coronavirus crisis and it has led to death, fear and pain for the people,” Muralidhar Rao said.