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Naidu hosts iftar at stadium

Hyderabad, Nov. 21: The Assembly dissolved and Andhra Pradesh waiting for snap polls, chief minister . Chandrababu Naidu this evening hosted a mass iftar at a city stadium.

The main venue of the recently-concluded Afro-Asian Games, Goshamahal stadium, in the heart of the city, hosted almost 5,000 invitees, sparing no prominent Muslim of the city. The event, attended by both VIPs and the man on the street, indicated Naiduís intent to appease the minorities ahead of polls.

But the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, which has four MLAs, boycotted the iftar. The minority-dominated party had attended the iftar hosted by the Congress.

Sporting a fez, Naidu brushed aside any perceived security threat to shake hands with most of the crowd at the first mass iftar held by his Telugu Desam Party in the last few years and the biggest in the city this year.

Earlier, iftars were held at Jubilee Hall that could hardly accommodate 500 people.

Unlike in the past, the chief ministerís office did not make any exception in extending invitations this time. Mohammed Azharuddin was a prominent invitee unlike two years ago when Naidu had accused the cricketer of gatecrashing his iftar.

Azharuddin, however, had flashed his invite, much to the CMOís embarrassment.

The spirit of the holy month of Ramazan dominated the city, quelling any fears of a communal flare-up fanned by last Fridayís clash between two communities in Karwan locality. About 15 people were injured that day in the clash over building a compound wall for a local mosque.

Prayers in the mosque at Karwan passed off peacefully today like at the historic Mecca Masjid, where over 30,000 faithful gathered for the Jumaitul Vida, the last Friday prayers of the holy month. The total number of worshippers was estimated to be 300,000.

The event passed off peacefully as the city police had made elaborate security arrangements by deploying nearly 4,000 policemen, including personnel of the CRPF and the RAF.

The roads leading to Mecca Masjid were closed to traffic from the morning and police commissioner R.P. Singh monitored the situation from Charminar police station while his men patrolled the area from rooftops of buildings.

Amid all the security, thousands of men, women and children thronged the streets to shop at the popular marketing spots of Madina and Pattharghatti as only four or five days are left for Id-ul-Fitr that marks the end of Ramazan.

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