As many as 14 persons were killed and over 50 others injured in a bomb blast in the historic Mecca Masjid and in the
subsequent police firings in the nearby areas on Friday.
The Majlis-e-Ittehaadul Muslimeen has called for a 'Hyderabad bandh' to protest against the incident and the police firings.
"While nine persons lost their lives in the in the bomb blast, five youth were killed when the police resorted to firing when they came onto the streets to protest the blast at the mosque," Hyderabad MP and MIM leader Asaduddin
Owaisi told rediff.com.
The bomb exploded around 1:30 pm when thousands of people were gathered in the mosque for Friday prayers, South Zone DCP Kanta Rao said. The injured, some of them bleeding profusely, were rushed to Osmania and other hospitals by the worshippers in whatever modes of transport they could arrange.
The explosion created such panic that those gathered for the prayers started running towards the exit gate of the mosque, said to be over 400 years old and considered sacred by Muslims in and outside the state.
"The situation is peaceful now, though tension prevails. The situation is under control," Hyderabad City Police Commissioner Balwinder Singh told media persons.
The police sounded a red alert and put the forces, including Rapid Action Force contingents, on bandobust to maintain peace and harmony.
He said that while a powerful bomb exploded in the mosque, resulting in the death of some persons and injuries to several others, the police recovered two unexploded bombs from the vicinity of the mosque.
The bomb disposal squad detected the unexploded bombs and sent them to the AP State Forensic Science Labs and the results would be known in a day or two.
Director-General of Police M A Basith also said that those who exploded the bomb in the mosque had used sophisticated mechanism which was not available in Hyderabad.
"We also recovered two unexploded bombs which are sophisticated and have a trigger. The recovered bombs (kept in tiffin boxes) were connected to cell-phones and we have been able to defuse them," he said.
"We assume that the same sophisticated mechanism would have been used for triggering the bomb that exploded in the mosque. That capacity is not available in Hyderabad so far," he said, hinting that it could be the handiwork of elements who came from outside or were supported by forces inimical to India.
"Some elements bent upon disturbing communal harmony in Hyderabad have resorted to this dastardly act of placing explosive bomb in a place of worship. It went off at the end of the Friday prayers and five people have lost their lives. The bomb was placed on an elevated platform. But it was a God-sent barrier to many people in the vicinity who would have lost their lives," he added.
The bomb blast in Mecca Masjid sparked off angry protests by hundreds of youth in and around the mosque and Charminar. For nearly three hours, a tense situation prevailed in the area as the youth and the police clashed.
Groups of youth intermittently indulged in brick-batting at the police, who responded by resorting to lathi-charge, lobbing of teargas shells, use of water cannons and firing in the air. The police also fired at the unruly mobs at two places, resulting in injuries to four persons.
The mobs who gathered at different places in the Old City forced the closure of the shops and establishments. They attacked RTC buses, breaking their front screens and window panes or setting these vehicles afire. At some places, shops were ransacked and looted. At several places, black flags were hoisted at the road junctions.
Sporadic protests were reported from the new city of Hyderabad, Secunderabad and other adjoining areas.
The Hyderabad City police deployed city armed police, AP Special Police and special commandos even as the Rapid Action Force of the Central Reserve Police Force have been rushed to the affected areas. Police pickets have been posted and patrolling intensified all over the twin cities.
Chief Minister Dr Y S Rajasekhar Reddy, who strongly condemned the bomb blast, said "This is an intentional sabotage of the peace and tranquility of the state." He announced ex-gratia compensation of Rs 500,000 each to the next of kin of the deceased victims and Rs 20,000 to the seriously injured persons. He said that it was too early to speculate on who could have been behind the attack. He appealed to the people to show restrain and cooperate with the police in maintaining peace and communal harmony. The state administration has alerted police forces all over the state. Superintendents and Commissioners of Police in the districts and major cities have been directed to take all precautions to ensure peace and order.
State Home Minister K Jana Reddy said the bomb blast at Mecca Masjid was a 'deep-rooted' conspiracy to disturb peace in the state. Asked about terrorist angle to the blast, he said: "We can't rule out anything. Investigations are on. He said security has been stepped up in all the districts to maintain law and order in the aftermath of the Hyderabad blast."
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has condemned the bomb blast in Hyderabad and urged members of all communities to maintain peace and communal harmony. He expressed his condolences to the relatives of the victims.
Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil said, "The Central government is keeping a close watch on the situation arising out of the bomb blast in Hyderabad today. It is in constant touch with Andhra Pradesh government. The Rapid Action Force contingent stationed in
Hyderabad has been placed at the disposal of the State Government. A team of forensic experts has been rushed to Hyderabad to help investigate the nature of the blast."
The Union Home Minister spoke to state chief minister (who was in Delhi and returned to Hyderabad later) and assured him of all possible assistance from the Centre. Strongly condemning the blast, he conveyed his sympathies to the kin of those killed.
"There was no need for excessive use of force and police firings. The Assistant Commissioner of Police showed highhandedness and reckless behaviour in dealing with the youth who had gathered to protest the bomb blast at the mosque. Police fired directly into the crowds and in a few cases, youth were shot dead at point blank range. The
firing victims had bullet injuries on their head, face, chest or stomach," he said.
"Our first demand to the state government is to suspend the ACP, Charminar, immediately. His continuance here will create more problem. Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy should order a CBI inquiry into the blast and police firings to assuage the feelings of the people and take them into confidence," Owaisi said.
"Mere announcement of ex-gratia will not bring the victims back to life. Both the blast and firings show that neither the culprits behind the blast nor the police have any respect for human life. Government must initiate action immediately on our demands. Otherwise, the situation may become difficult as the people are emotionally surcharged. We are doing our best to control the situation and we won't allow it to deteriorate. We appeal to the people to observe the bandh in the twin cities of Hyderabad-Secunderabad on Saturday in a peaceful manner and to maintain communal harmony in these trying circumstances," he said.