Prophet row: Cops shut down petrol pumps in Hyderabad’s old city as protests continue

Hyderabad: City police on Wednesday closed down all the petrol pumps across parts of the old city as protests continue against the now suspended BJP MLA from Goshamahal Raja Singh for his alleged controversial remarks against Prophet Muhammad.

Speaking to Siasat.com, the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) clarified that the Charminar is kept open for visitors for now, but will be closed in the case of any major protest or skirmishes.

Four people including a police sub-inspector were injured in skirmishes in protests held against suspended BJP MLA Raja Singh on Tuesday. The protestors, demanding action against him for his remarks on Prophet Muhammad, held several rallies all night. The largest one was held at Shalibanda. A handful of Muslim protestors were also reportedly thrashed when they tried to reach Goshamahal.

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Protests followed by small bouts of violence broke out after Raja Singh got bail on Tuesday following his arrest by the Hyderabad police. Groups of Muslim youngsters continued to take out protest rallies throughout the intervening night of Wednesday in the Old City. At around 3 am, some of them tried to march towards Goshamahal, but the attempt was prevented by the police.

Large numbers of personnel from the Rapid Action Force, state police, and Armed Reserve have been posted to contain the situation. On Tuesday night, senior police officials also managed to convince youngsters to back from Mussalam Jung bridge when they tried to reach Goshamahal. Two vehicles were also damaged by the protestors, who demanded action against Raja Singh.

The biggest protest was organised at Shalibanda, near Rajesh Medical Hall at the junction. At several places, effigies of Raja SIngh were burnt. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Goshamahal constituency Raja Singh was suspended on Tuesday from the party for violating party rules. He released a video in which he passed derogatory comments about Prophet Muhammad calling it “comedy”.

What Raja Singh said

The BJP MLA passed several derogatory comments against Muslims and Prophet Muhammad in a Youtube video. “How unfortunate is it that he married the (six-year-old) girl?,” said Raja Singh.

Raja Singh was essentially unwilling to let go of the fact that standup comic Munawar Faruqui was allowed to hold a show in the city last week. Faruqui performed at the Shilpakala Vedika with full police protection on August 20. The venue was turned into a fortress by the cops, who also put the BJP MLA under house arrest to prevent him from disrupting it.

Protests began on Monday night, with angry youth demanding his arrest outside city police commissioner CV Anand’s office. It continued on Tuesday and intensified after he was released on bail. BJP chief spokesperson for Telangana Krishna Saagar Rao told Siasat.com that his party respects all religions and faiths. “We are a national party and we don’t support the statements of Raja Singh or hate speech,” he stated.