Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, like the superstitious Nizam, believes the Secretariat needs to be built as per Vastu (traditional Indian system of architecture) to attract good fortune. The Nizam was deceived into believing that the palace would bring bad luck but KCR also seems to believe in superstitions.
Nikhat Fatima | Clarion India
HYDERABAD — The furore over the demolition of two mosques along with the Old Secretariat on 7 July lasted a few days and subsided with Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) promising to build a new mosque after expressing regret that he had no idea that the mosques were also demolished.
Though some leaders from the Muslim community thanked the CM for the assurance, the ordinary Muslims have seen through this action and have resigned to the truth that this move was not accidental but a planned one. They feel that it is highly unlikely that the mosques will be re-built and that, too, at the same spot.
“I see the whole thing as part of a greater conspiracy” said Lateef Mohammed Khan, a high-profile activist heading the Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee.
“Leaders who are now in TRS (Telangana Rashtra Samithi) staged protests when Masjid-e-Omer Farooq was demolished in 2007 when the Congress was in Rule, to build the airport at Shamshabad. Every Friday, Mr Mehmood Ali, who is now the Home Minister, used to go to Shamshabad, on the outskirts of Hyderabad to offer Friday Namaz and stage protests. But nothing happened apart from empty assurances. Now, when his party is in rule, they have demolished 3 mosques, Mehmood Ali is doing the same thing – giving empty assurances. And the Congress party members are staging protests. I see all this as nothing but a conspiracy of these political leaders whose aim is to demoralise Muslims,” he added.
The history of Secretariat
Not many know that the secretariat or the G Block, also called Peshi, was once known as ‘Saifabad Palace’ built by the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad Mahboob Ali Pasha in 1888 with the intention to live in it. The palace was outside the old city of Hyderabad where there was a lot of vacant land all around except for a few mansions.
The architecture of the palace was built in European style but inspired by Buckingham Palace. It had semi-circular arches, an imposing arched portico, Corinthian columns and ornate staircases, all of which made it a grand building. It had high ceilings due to which the building was cool even during the scorching summer.
However, the Nizam chose not to live there. A famous historian of Hyderabad narrated the story behind this decision to Clarion India: there were 2 nobles of the Nizam who had mansions in the same vicinity. Afsar Ul Mulk, the commander-in-chief who lived in Rahat Manzil and another Fakhr Ul Mulk who lived in Errum Manzil.
They were averse to the idea of having the Nizam as their neighbour which meant that they would have to go frequently to the Nizam to offer their salaam. They hatched a plan and, on the day the Nizam was coming to inspect the Saifabad Palace, hired a person to let loose a long-necked monitor lizard with powerful claws on the road just when the Nizam’s buggy was near.
When the Nizam saw the monstrous lizard, he never inhabited the palace taking it as a bad omen and it was locked up for almost 12 years till his death.
His successor, the seventh Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, used the palace as the administrative office to run the kingdom of Hyderabad.
Ever since, it has been used to run the administrative affairs of the state. The late Chief Minister N T Rama Rao named it as ‘Sarvahita’, also known as G Block, and ran his office from there. And during his reign, it was working in full swing, housing not just the Chief Minister’s office but also a press room, a Unani dispensary, union office of the employees of the secretariat, a thrift society and even a crèche for the children of the employees.
It was the most powerful place till 1994. And after Rama Rao’s death, his successor, N Chandrababu Naidu, shifted office to the C Block, neglecting the G Block which slowly became a storehouse for broken furniture and other unused items.
And now, the current Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, like the superstitious Nizam, believes the Secretariat needs to be built as per Vastu (traditional Indian system of architecture) to attract good fortune. The Nizam was deceived into believing that the palace would bring bad luck but KCR also seems to believe in superstitions.
After the nod from the HC, the palace and the other 10 blocks that were subsequently added were all demolished. And along with it, one temple and two mosques were also razed to the ground.
The mosques demolished were Masjid Dafaatir-e-Muatamadi, also referred to as the secretariat masjid built in 2003, and Masjid-e-Hashmi, which is the older of the two having been built in 1937 by the 7th Nizam and was used for prayers by the employees. Both the mosques were in use.
An employee at the Secretariat confirmed that the prayer mats, the texts of the Holy Quran and even a donation box that had money in it went in the rubble when the mosques were demolished. In order to appease the people, news has been spread that these were taken out from the mosque before demolishing the mosques.
However, the idols from the Nalla Pochamma temple that was also demolished along with the secretariat complex were safely removed and shifted, he confided.
“It is a blatant lie from KCR that he regrets the incident showing the demolition as accidental,” said Maqbool Mateen, president of the United Citizens Forum. He also believes that neither the masjid nor the mandir have been demolished accidentally. It was done deliberately. However, the demolition of the temple must have been done after consulting the Hindus. “If not, the Hindutva groups would have made the life of KCR miserable by now”, he says.
“Government has to issue their plans on paper. We can’t believe their hypothecations,” Mateen said with regard to re-building the mosque.
Khairoodin Sufi, Chairperson of the Sufi Council of India, said, “If any Muslim is elated that KCR is going to build back those mosques, then they are going to be very disappointed. This is not the first mosque nor will this be the last. Remember the mosque at the airport and the Ek Kahana mosque of Amberpet? They were also going to be built back. What happened? This government has many other mosques on its radar on one pretext or the other. Let Muslims not be smug in their belief that this is a secular Government.”
Apart from the mosques and the palace, the beautiful stone building that stood next to the secretariat and housed the Telangana State Southern Power Distribution Company Limited from 1940 was earlier Osmania Technical College at Mint Compound and was more than a 100 years old on 2.5 acres. It has already been demolished to add to the 25.5 acres of the secretariat land.
While people are yet to come to terms with the demolition of these two mosques, the Qutub Shahi mosque was partially damaged in a road-widening project by the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority. Later, the old mosque’s boundary was demolished to lay a road in its courtyard in the last week of July.
There is a fear that many mosques in and around the Golkonda Fort could be next as the Muslims have been denied entry to offer prayers there and the mosques are slowly dilapidating.
About Rs 500 crores from the public money will be used for the construction of a new secretariat based on the Vastu.
Meanwhile, the mansions of the two nobles who tricked the Nizam have also lost their charm as the Rahat Manzil has been turned into the Reserve Bank a long while ago, while the striking Errum Manzil which used to host royal parties is also going to be axed in the near future.
Andhra Pradesh has seen several chief ministers who ran their administration from the secretariat adding new blocks, changing entrances to suit their Vastu but no one ever thought of demolishing the heritage buildings.
“Ever since KCR has come into power, he has been eying heritage sites. He is perhaps the first chief minister to axe heritage buildings,” lamented Aasiya, a post-graduate student.
True enough. KCR demolished the 200-year-old Ek Khana Masjid of Amberpet and Victoria Zenana Hospital built in 1907, and now he has axed the Saifabad palace built in 1888, Stone building of Mint Compound and Masjid-e-Shafi. He now has eyes on the Osmani General Hospital that was built in 1919 in Indo-Saracenic style. And, of course, the Errum Manzil built in 1870 which is on his list.
“Instead of preserving these structures, he is demolishing them which is not correct. Heritage buildings are our legacy,” concluded Aasiya while talking to Clarion India.