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Hyderabad clashes leave three dead

Hyderabad, May 14: Three persons were killed today in alleged police firing in Hyderabad after clashes broke out over the alleged burning of a religious flag.

An indefinite curfew has been clamped in Kishanbagh, the trouble spot in the old city, around 4km from the Charminar. Ten persons were injured, police said.

The trouble started when some people found the religious flag half-burnt atop a place of worship, after which mobs from two communities started throwing stones at each other, the police said.

Some vehicles were damaged and others torched by the mobs that prowled the narrow lanes, many brandishing weapons, the police said.

The police initially lobbed tear gas shells and wielded batons to disperse the mobs and later opened fire when the groups did not relent and started attacking the police, a senior officer said.

“Around 1,000 members from both sides indulged in clashes,” the officer said, adding some policemen were among the injured.

Commercial establishments in the Charminar area, otherwise teeming with tourists and shoppers, downed shutters after the violence.

Late this evening, governor E.S.L. Narasimhan reviewed the situation with Andhra Pradesh police chief Prasada Rao and ordered the deployment of paramilitary forces, which had been sent for the recent elections, in the trouble spots. The state is currently under central rule.

“There was an incident of rioting between two groups but right now, the situation is totally under control. We are ensuring that there is peace,” Hyderabad police chief Anurag Sharma said.

The trouble — Hyderabad had last seen such clashes six years ago — came amid tension ahead of Andhra’s bifurcation on June 2.

Political parties condemned the clashes. “We must all protect the image of Hyderabad,” Telugu Desam Party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu said. TRS chief Chandrasekhar Rao echoed the appeal.