Don’t politicise places of worship: Telangana Home Minister Mehmood Ali

Hyderabad: Two mosques situated in the premises of the Secretariat are snowballing into a controversy. The nerve centre of state administration was locked on September 30 after all the departments moved out paving the way for demolition of the old structures. Since then, nobody has turned up to pray either at the mosques or the temple present here.

For the last several decades, prayers have regularly taken place in the Masjide Hashmi and Masjide Moutamadi with Muslim employees and visitors to the Secretariat offering ‘namaz’. However, security guards are not allowing anyone to enter the Secretariat due to which nobody has access to the places of worship. A few who went to the Secretariat last Friday were politely turned away.

Members of the Minority wing of the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee called on the Home Minister, Mohammed Mehmood Ali, and sought his intervention to resolve the matter. A delegation led by Shaikh Abdullah Sohail presented a memorandum to the Home Minister requesting for permission to be given to those who want to offer prayers at the mosques. Places of worship are not government offices to be locked down. People have an emotional attachment to mosques and temples, and therefore nobody should be denied access to them. The Congress party will not allow the government to pull down the mosque and temples for construction of the new Secretariat, the delegation warned.

Senior Congress leader and former minister, Mohammed Ali Shabbir, also objected to the closure of the mosques. By withholding permission, the KCR government has sent the message that the places of worship would be demolished to facilitate construction of the new complex. Over a dozen mosques in different areas in Telangana have been either demolished or closed down ever since the TRS government came to power. “This government is worse than BJP governments in other states,” Shabbir remarked. He also slammed the Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen for keeping silent and accused them of endorsing the “anti-Muslim” moves of the government.

Home Minister Mehmood Ali informed that the mosques and temples in the Secretariat were mostly for the benefit of the employees working there and not outsiders. Now that all the departments have been shifted, there is no one left to pray. Any employee present on the premises in connection with the shifting can offer prayers. “Government has not locked any place of worship,” Mehmood Ali said. He urged Muslims not to fall prey to the controversy sought to be created in some quarters.

The Home Minister further clarified that Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao is a secular person who respects all religions. In fact, after the formation of Telangana, festivals of different religions are officially celebrated. “KCR regards Hindus and Muslims as his two eyes like the last Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, and has given enough proof of it,” Mehmood Ali added.

He decried attempts to do “politics” over the places of worship situated in the Secretariat. Government has decided to preserve the mosques and temples here when the new complex is built. The Cabinet sub-committee constituted in connection with the construction of new Secretariat has given its report to the government. Shifting of the existing places of worship doesn’t figure in it, he said.

J.S. Ifthekhar

J.S. Ifthekhar is a senior journalist with nearly four decades of experience. Ifthekhar cut his teeth in journalism at the Indian Express before he moved to The Hindu. He was also associated with the Siasat Daily, Telangana Today, Deccan Chronicle, Onlooker magazine, Newstrack, Detective Digest and a few news agencies. He has written on different subjects and aspects of Hyderabadi life. However, his passion remains literature in general and Urdu poetry in particular. He is equally concerned with culture, heritage, civic affairs and problems confronting the man in the street. As a journalist he has taken up cudgels on behalf of the underprivileged and many of his stories in The Hindu saw the government promptly taking corrective measures. Ifthekhar has authored two books - Hyderabad - The Nawabi City on The Move and Haj - The Spirit Behind it. He has also translated two books from Urdu to English. Currently he is working on his third book - Poets and Writers of Deccan.

Loves to write and writes to live. Can't imagine doing anything else.

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