Congress leaders pray at Charminar temple amid row

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Hyderabad, June 3

Telangana Congress leaders on Friday visited Bhagya Lakshmi temple abutting Charminar amid a temple-mosque controversy at the historic monument.

A day after state BJP chief Bandi Sanjay Kumar attacked Congress over the signature campaign launched by one of its Muslim leaders for re-opening of the mosque at Charminar, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, senior leader V. Hanumantha Rao, MLA Seethakka and others visited the temple to offer prayers.

The Congress leaders said they offered prayers for speedy recovery of their party chief Sonia Gandhi, who has tested positive for Covid-19.

They dismissed Bandi Sanjay's allegation that Congress has secret understanding with Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and they along with All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) were trying to remove the temple from Charminar.

Vikramarka told reporters that they had been offering prayers at the temple even before Bandi Sanjay started coming here. "This temple is not an asset of BJP or Bandi Sanjay," he said.

The Congress leaders alleged that the BJP leader was trying to gain political mileage by creating a controversy.

A row erupted after a Congress leader launched campaign for re-opening of the mosque at Charminar for Muslim to offer prayers.

Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee secretary Rashed Khan says that Muslims used to offer Namaz at the 16th-century monument till two decades ago. He recalled that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) closed the mosque on top floor of the monument after a family of four had committed suicide by jumping down.

He started a signature campaign requesting the ASI and the ministry of tourism and culture to re-open the mosque for prayers. He also plans to make a request to Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao in this regard.

The Congress leader said that Bhagya Lakshmi temple is an illegal construction as clearly stated by ASI in one of the reports. He said since prayers were being allowed in the 'unauthorised' temple, the authorities should allow Muslims to offer prayers in the mosque which has been there since Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah built Charminar in 1591.

However, the Congress leader's demand angered BJP which alleged a conspiracy to target the temple. Some BJP leaders even demanded Khan's arrest for trying to create trouble.

Bandi Sanjay, who is a Member of Parliament, warned against any attempt to touch the temple. "Why the demand for Namaz at Charminar now? Just because we started offering prayers at Bhagya Lakshmi temple, you are making this demand," said Sanjay, who last year launched his padyatra after offering prayers at the temple.

He alleged that Congress has secret understanding with TRS and they along with AIMIM were trying to create a problem for the Muslim votes.


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