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New Mosque Inaugurated amidst Controversy: Restoration of Demolished Religious Sites within Telangana’s Newly Constructed Secretariat Complex

– Syed Ahmed Ali

Chief Minister of Telangana K. Chandrasekhar Rao inaugurating the new Secretariat Masjid on August 25

Hyderabad: In a significant event on Friday, August 25, 2023, a recently built mosque within the precincts of Telangana’s modern Secretariat complex was inaugurated. Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, AIMIM president and Hyderabad Lok Sabha member Asaduddin Owaisi presided over the ceremony, joined by several ministers, MLAs, and officials.

In conjunction with the mosque’s inauguration, a temple and a church were also consecrated, marking their inclusion in Telangana’s revamped Secretariat complex. Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao took part in special prayers held at these three places of worship on the momentous day.

Two mosques, namely Masjid Dafatir-e-Moattamadi and Masjid-e-Hashmi, fell victim to the demolition during the dismantling of the former secretariat buildings, which commenced on July 17, 2020. This extensive demolition, covering 25 acres at the city’s core, encompassed the entire secretariat complex. Masjid Dafatir-e-Moattamadi was positioned adjacent to Block C, while Masjid-e-Hashmi was situated near Block D of the former secretariat edifices.

Subsequent to the mosques’ destruction, a wave of demonstrations swept across numerous areas in Hyderabad, with people fervently demanding the swift reconstruction of these integral religious sites within the Telangana Secretariat.

Khaja Aijazuddin, a practising lawyer based in Hyderabad, has filed a writ petition (PIL) with the Telangana High Court. The petition seeks an order directing the Telangana Government to restore three places of worship, including two mosques and a temple, which were razed.

The situation gained further prominence when, in April 2021, the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) issued a notice to Somesh Kumar, Telangana’s chief secretary. This notice pertained to the demolition of two mosques and a temple within the secretariat complex. In response to a complaint filed by former corporator and MBT spokesperson Amjed Ullah Khan Khalid, who raised concerns about the unjustified demolition of these religious structures, the NCM called for a response from the state government within 10 days.

The United Muslim Forum (UMF), a collective organisation representing various Muslim groups, expressed profound distress. The forum decried the “tragic” and “unconstitutional” demolition of the two mosques, which inflicted pain and suffering within the Muslim community. These sacred places of worship were viewed as hurdles to the construction of the new secretariat, compelling the government to dismantle all three structures.

Highlighting the urgency of reinstating the razed mosques at their original sites, the UMF underscored that Muslims could not support their reconstruction elsewhere.

This united stance was conveyed through a joint statement issued by prominent figures, including Asaduddin Owaisi, Akbaruddin Owaisi (AIMIM floor leader in the Telangana Assembly), Moulana Akbar Nizamuddun, and Moulana Mufti Khaleel Ahmed of Jamia Nizamia. Other signatories included Moulana Raheemuddin Ansari, President of the MUF, Moulana Hamid Mohammed Khan, then President of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind Telangana State, Moulana Hafiz Peer Shabbir Ahmed, President of Jamiatul Ulema’s Telangana and Andhra Pradesh division, as well as eminent religious scholars like Moulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani and Moulana Jaffer Pasha, among others.

The leaders emphasised that both mosques, namely Masjid-e-Hashmi and the Secretariat Mosque, were documented in the records of the Waqf Board and had received official gazette notifications.

On July 10, 2020, CM KCR acknowledged that the temple and the mosques incurred damage due to debris during the demolition of the adjacent secretariat buildings. “I apologise for the incident. It occurred unexpectedly and should not have happened. The government’s intent was to construct a new secretariat complex without causing harm to the temple or the mosques,” an official statement from the chief minister’s office quoted KCR as saying.

Nearly two months following the demolition of two mosques and a temple situated at the former state secretariat location, CM K Chandrashekhar Rao, declared the government’s intention to reconstruct these structures. Additionally, a church will also be built within the premises of the new secretariat complex. CM further affirmed in his official statement that the mosque and temple would be reconstructed within the sanctity of the newly constructed secretariat, encompassing a significantly larger area.

On Friday, November 25, 2021, Moulana Mufti Khaleel Ahmed Sahab from Jamia Nizamia, along with AIMIM Floor Leader Akbaruddin Owaisi, AIMIM Malakpet MLA Ahmed Balala, and Telangana Home Minister Mahmood Ali, participated in the groundbreaking ceremony of the Secretariat Mosque.

During the inauguration ceremony of the mosque on August 25, 2023, the chief minister emphasised the government’s unwavering commitment to fostering brotherhood in Telangana. CM inaugurated the mosque alongside Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, AIMIM president and Hyderabad Lok Sabha member Asaduddin Owaisi, and numerous ministers, MLAs, and officials who attended the ceremony.

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