Bhadradri Kothagudem: The forest officials here demolished an under-construction structure, which they claimed was a mall and was being illegally constructed on forest reserve land in the name of building a mosque.
This has led to protest by the Muslim community in the area.
According to the forest officials, the mall was being constructed adjacent to an existing mosque in the area, which has not been harmed.
Forest Development Officer Damodar Reddy, told ANI over the phone that, "Few Muslims had constructed a mosque many years ago in Sarapaka Forest Reserve Land located at Manuguru crossroad. Later they also constructed three houses at the same place and were staying there. Now, they started construction of a mall overnight in the name of a mosque without obtaining any permission from the concerned authority."
Forest department officials along with police teams demolished the structure "without causing any harm to the mosque" which was just 10 metres behind the structure," Reddy said.
The forest department had registered a case against the perpetrators for allegedly violating the Forest Act in February this year. "They have given an undertaking stating that they will not construct further but they did it again," the officer said.
Local Muslims staged a protest against the demolition alleging that a mosque has been demolished by the officials.
Demanding the re-erection of the structure, a local told ANI: "Forest department has demolished the structure of an under-construction mosque. Injustice has done to us. We demand the government to intervene and should construct the structure at the same place where it was demolished."
The department, however, rejected the charge and maintained that the structure was of a mall.
"We did not demolish any mosque and we did not hurt anyone's sentiment. The structure stood on forest reserve land and we have demolished it," Reddy said.