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Rioting & bloodspill on Babri black day

Hyderabad, Dec. 7: In the third communal flare-up since snap polls were announced in Andhra Pradesh, five persons were killed and 22 injured yesterday on the eleventh anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition.

Of the dead, two succumbed to injuries suffered in police firing and three to stabbing by the mob. Three of the injured, which includes several senior police officers, are said to be critical, police said.

Chief minister . Chandrababu Naidu has ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident that prompted indefinite curfew in seven police station areas in Hyderabad’s old city quarters.

Shattering his nine-year-old regime’s claim of zero communal riots, yesterday’s clash was sparked during the observance of “Black Day” in memory of the demolition of December 6, 1992.

Trouble began late in the evening soon after the police chased away an unruly group that tried to plant a black flag in front of a religious institution, additional police commissioner A.K. Khan said.

Later, however, police pickets withdrew as nothing significant had occurred during the day. But another group distributed sweets to celebrate the VHP-declared “Shourya Divas”, sparking tension and subsequent stone-pelting, arson and looting of houses and shops.

The police returned to the scene within hours and fired in the air. But the incessant stone-pelting and arson in Moghalpura, Shah Ali Banda, Rein Bazar and Chatrinaka localities provoked a lathicharge and direct firing. K . Srinivas, 34, Krishna, 52, Onam, 53, Azam, 22, and Talib, 26, were killed.

Naidu consoled the injured at Osmania general hospital and also visited the strife-torn localities and directed the police to increase vigil and ensure peace.

“Curfew has been imposed on all seven police station limits,” Khan said. “There has been no violence since 1 am. The situation is tense but under control,” he added.

More forces have been deployed, including the Rapid Action Force, paramilitary forces and civil police.

The old city had suffered another communal flare-up about four days ago when Sikhs and Muslims fought over the Nishan-e-Mubarak, the religious flag atop a gurdwara that was found burnt and thrown in a gutter in Kishan Bagh locality.

The enraged Sikhs had taken to the streets and in the ensuing mob violence, two were killed and 15 injured in stabbings and police firing.

On November 14, hours after the Assembly was dissolved, clashes had broken out between residents of three city localities over a piece of government land near a mosque, leading to mob raids on houses and police firing in the face of stone-pelting.

Although prohibitory orders were clamped in the trouble spots, stray incidents of violence continued in Karwan locality the next day.

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