Charminar Hyderabad India
The Charminar in Hyderabad. Several Muslim leaders, including Hyderabad member of parliament and MIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi, termed the action as “heart-breaking and unconstitutional”. Image Credit: PTI

Hyderabad: As the demolition of two mosques and a temple in the old state secretariat complex in Hyderabad has generated a huge row, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) has expressed regret and pain over the incident and promised to build a new mosque and temple as part of the new secretariat building.

Masjid-e-Hashmi and Secretariat mosque and Nalla Pochamma temple were among the structures that were pulled down, along with the old secretariat building, to pave the way for a new secretariat.

As the incident evoked a sharp reaction from the Muslim and Hindu communities, Rao issued a statement of regret. He promised that a new mosque and temple would be built at a much spacious site at government cost.

‘Heart-breaking and unconstitutional’

The statement came after several organisations, including political parties such as Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) condemned the demolition and warned of serious consequences.

Several Muslim leaders, including Hyderabad member of parliament and MIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi, termed the action as “heart-breaking and unconstitutional” and said that the relocation of the mosques would not be acceptable. Questions were also raised as to why the state Waqf Board was not taken into confidence and why it failed to protect the structure.

BJP has termed the demolition of the temple as an act of “blasphemy”. BJP general secretary P. Murlidhar Rao warned that the KCR government would have to pay a very heavy price for its action. “The pulling down of the temple will shorten the life of the KCR government as it had attracted the wrath of the deity”, Rao said.

A perturbed KCR assured that he would convene a meeting with the temple and mosque organisers and discuss the issue.

‘Secular spirit’

“I came to know that, while demolishing the multistoried old buildings, the temple and mosque adjacent to the old buildings were damaged due to fall of the debris on them. I felt sorry about the incident. It should not have happened. The government’s intention is to build a new complex by demolishing the old buildings without causing any damage to the temple or the Mosque,” the CM clarified.

“Telangana is a secular state. We will continue [with] the secular spirit come what may. This incident happened unexpectedly. Everyone should understand this properly without prejudice,” the CM urged.

One row after the other

Ever since the chief minister floated the idea of razing the old secretariat complex, including a heritage building, to the ground to build a new complex at a cost of Rsfour billion (Dh196.46 million), it has run into one row from another. Though the foundation stone of the new complex was laid more than a year ago and all the offices were moved out, the project made no headway until now as heritage activists challenged it in the High Court. After a months-long wait, the High Court finally allowed the government last week to demolish the old buildings. However, now the court has again stayed until Monday over the issue of disposal of waste from the old buildings.

Controversy over 11 domes

The state Cabinet has also approved the design of the new complex, which has a dominant Islamic architecture. The BJP has objected to it, saying it is looking like a mosque. Former state BJP president K. Lakshman alleged that there were 11 domes in the design to appease the MIM. In a letter to CM Rao, he asked: “Whether 11 domes were included to appease your friend Asaduddin Owaisi.”

The Chief Minister has also come under attack from rationalists for planning a new secretariat because of his superstitious beliefs that the design of the old secretariat was not auspicious.