The first Friday of the Ramzan saw around 15,000 Muslims congregate at the Mecca Masjid to perform their prayers amidst intense police security. Apart from the 10 CRPF platoons which are regularly deployed in the mosque’s surroundings, police said that an additional 12 platoons were deployed on Friday.
One of the main reasons for the police to deploy such large numbers of their personnel in and around the Masjid was the scheduled speech of MIM floor leader in the legislative assembly Akbaruddin Owaisi after the Friday prayers.
Owaisi, taking part in the ‘Day of the Quran’ ceremony, rededicated himself “entirely to public life.” During his first major public appearance after recovering from the attack on him three months ago, he said that he survived because of the prayers of the people. At the same time, he promised to avenge his attack but did not say how.
Police said that security was also beefed up at all the religious places and other parts of Old City. City security wing sleuths also carried out anti-sabotage checks in the surrounding areas of Mecca Masjid.
A Rapid Action Force (RAF) team was posted near Charminar. City police commissioner A K Khan reviewed the security arrangements and the field-level officers were constantly on the move. “Extra home guards were provided and there was discreet surveillance,” said Vineet Brijlal, DCP, south zone.
The Masjid authorities said that the number of people who assembled at the mosque was much higher than the usual number of around 5,000 given that it was the first Friday of Ramzan. The presence of Akbaruddin Owaisi also had more people coming in on Friday.
Even as the day passed off peacefully, for traders in the Old City it turned out to be rather uneventful. Their hopes of doing a brisk business on the first Friday of Ramzan ended with a dud.
“This poor response has come as a surprise to us who have been doing business in this area for decades now,” said Abid Mohiuddin, the general secretary of the Old City traders association.
The traders said that it was for the first time this year that they witnessed such a poor footfall in the otherwise popular market during Ramzan. “During the first 15 days, shops are usually swarmed with women customers who come out in large numbers to buy apparels and other accessories to gear up for the final celebration. But this time we have spotted just a handful of them. We do not know what the reason is. All we know is that it is not a good sign for us,” one of them said. TOI