As hindutva continues to lose followers in its old haunting grounds, it seeks fresh pastures in the southern states. Hard hindutva never found a place in the venality of Karnataka, but it is seeking a role in Andhra Pradesh. AP is ripe for communalization because of two reasons. First, the city of Hyderabad has a visible Muslim heritage, but the local Muslims are largely impoverished and vulnerable. Second, the demand for separating out a Telengana state has not been supported by the Muslim political parties.
In this background, the Easter weekend belonged to Praveen Togadia. On Good Friday TOI reported:
The city, amidst much vigilance, is all set to celebrate Hanuman Jayanthi on Friday. Heavy police bandobust has been put in place for the rally in view of the permission given to Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Praveen Togadia to address the gathering at two places. Special police pickets have been posted near mosques and churches to prevent any untoward incident.
At a press conference here on Thursday, VHP state joint secretary Yaman Singh said they were expecting over two lakh members to participate in the bike rally. “The participants are requested not to cover their faces and not to hide the vehicle registration numbers with stickers,” Singh said. VHP supremo Praveen Togadia would flag off the rally and deliver speeches at Gowliguda and Tadban Hanuman temples.
The rally is scheduled to start at Gowliguda Hanuman temple at 10 am and pass through Putlibowli, Sultan Bazaar, Ram Kote, Kacheguda crossroads, Narayanguda, Chikkadpally, RTC X Roads, Ashok Nagar X Roads, Gandhi Nagar, Kavadiguda, Praga Tools, Bible House, Bata, Paradise and reach Tadbun Hanuman temple in the evening. Police identified 18 mosques, chillas and five churches on the rally route where static police pickets headed by an official of not less than sub-inspector (SI) rank would be in place.
In view of the stone pelting incident at a place of worship during the Hanuman rally in 2010, the RTC crossroads-Musheerabad crossroads stretch would be blocked throughout the day and traffic would also be diverted accordingly.
It was in 2010 that communal clashes had erupted in the Old City a day before Hanuman Jayanthi, over the issue of tying religious flags and banners in mixed localities. Curfew was imposed for several days. A decision was then taken to ensure that the flags were removed immediately after the end of the festival. This year, the permission for buntings has been given from March 30 to April 7 to cover both Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanthi.
Visitors to Hyderabad can see many Hanuman temples in the middle of roads in Muslim majority areas through Hyderabad, just as a temple has sprouted near the iconic Charminar. A day earlier, the TOI reported that a familiar provocative political style was already in evidence:
Recently, the Hyderabad police held a meeting with Facebook officials and asked to them to be available to police during the festival season. In the last few days, there were instances of blasphemous content posted on the social networking site aimed at creating tension between religious groups.
Besides the Sangareddy incident, tension had gripped the Old City a few days ago when some persons brought to the notice of police about a morphed photograph of a place of worship posted on FB. Police got the content deleted by contacting FB management. They claimed they could avoid escalation of tension and the situation from turning violent since the issue was taken up by Darsgah Jihad-O- Shahadat (DJS), a radical organisation.
Sunday was direct action day. DNA reported:
According to sources, a group noticed pieces of meat thrown in the premises of a religious place and took to streets immediately in preparation of carrying out attacks on the religious places of another group. Both the groups started pelting stones at each other and were on the brink of clashing with weapons when the city police rushed forces to disperse the crowds.
However, the groups continued to gather in various street corners creating fresh trouble in each others areas. Noticing the situation slipping out of hands, the city police clamped curfew in Madannapet and Saidabad areas of the Old City, where the trouble had kicked off in the morning.
The miscreants tried to create trouble at the historic Charminar as well in the afternoon. However, alert Rapid Action Force and police swung into action to disperse the groups. While the city police are cautious in giving out the details of the trouble due to the “sensitive” nature of the whole issue, sources said there has been an uneasy calm in the old city in the wake of Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti.
A group had taken out unprecedented rallies on both the days in a way provoking the other group. According to sources, those participating in the rallies had also shouted slogans that had the potential to hurt the sentiments of the group.
Police seem to be a little suspicious of the reported motivation for rioting. TOI reported:
Till Sunday evening, the entire city police machinery was busy dousing the communal fire. Later in the night, Task Force sleuths picked up half-a-dozen suspects from various places in the Old City and began interrogating then to get some leads into the incident of desecration of the place of worship.