MIM stages protest at Andhra police headquarters
May 20, 2007 - 4:57:36 PM
Hyderabad, May 20 - The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen -, a party with a large following in the Muslim-majority old city of Hyderabad, Sunday staged a protest in front of the Andhra Pradesh police headquarters demanding immediate suspension of the police officials responsible for firing after Friday's bomb blast at the historic Mecca Masjid.
Led by party leader and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, MIM activists staged a sit-in in front of the office of Director General of Police - in Saifabad, throwing traffic out of gear in the heart of the city.
Tension prevailed for some time as the activists, who were carrying black flags, tried to barge into the high-security office, abutting the state legislative assembly building. They shouted slogans against police and set afire an effigy DGP M.A. Basit.
The young parliamentarian demanded that the government immediately order an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation - into the bomb blast and the police firing and suspension of officials for opening fire.
The 17th-century Mecca Masjid, near the city's famous landmark of Charminar, was targeted with a powerful blast Friday afternoon. Soon after that, police had fired on a protesting mob to quell violence.
Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy said Saturday that 11 people were killed in the mosque blast, while five died in police firing.
On Saturday night, the police chief had clarified that nine people died in the blast and five in firing.
Owaisi, however, said 10 people died in police firing and seven in the blast.
Basit had initially denied police firing and claimed that only rubber bullets were fired. During a meeting called by Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil here Saturday, the DGP had defended the police action.
'We want an immediate CBI inquiry and immediate suspension of guilty officers and if these demands are not met then there is no difference between the governments of Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat,' said Owaisi, whose party is an ally of the ruling Congress.
'The firing was unprovoked. Some policemen deliberately targeted protesters and shot them in their chests,' alleged the MP.
Akbaruddin Owaisi, the parliamentarian's younger brother and MIM's leader in the state assembly, and other party leaders also participated in the protest.
The old city, which is home to half of the city's four million population, is a traditional stronghold of MIM. The party won all the five assembly seats in the old city and the Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat in the 2004 elections.
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