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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

Hyderabad blast makes Malegaonites revisit their terror Friday

Zeeshan Shaikh, Hindustan Times  Malegaon, May 18, 2007
First Published: 18:00 IST(18/5/2007) | Last Updated: 18:12 IST(18/5/2007)

Stepping out after his Friday prayers at the Hamidiya Masjid in Malegaon, Muzaffar Shaikh was a worried man after hearing about the bomb blast at Mecca Mosque in Hyderabad.

The 42-year-old scrap dealer, who witnessed and survived the blast at Malegaon's Hamidiya Mosque last September, recollected his own experience of seeing severed limbs and dead bodies after hearing about the fatal blast in Hyderabad which claimed six lives.

"You can't be afraid while stepping into the house of god. However, such incidents definitely make you worry about our safety," Shaikh told HT.

Residents of the city, which is seen by authorities as a virtual communal tinderbox, were peaceful after learning about the Hyderabad blasts. However residents of Malegaon, where a blast occurred at a local mosque on September 8, killing 31 people, are increasingly getting worried about the security at their mosques.

The much-vaunted exercise of the police to train a group of dedicated volunteers who would keep a watch on places of worship in the city has also fizzled out eight months after the blast.

"The initiative was launched with much fanfare by the police. Lot of people signed up as volunteers and were given I-cards. However the whole exercise fizzled out. Today you don't find either policemen or volunteers standing outside the mosques," Jamait-ul-Ulema-e-Hind's general secretary Maulana Abdul Qayyum Qadri said.

However the police say that it is difficult for them to place police personnel at every mosque. "With elections in Malegaon our forces are spread thin. It is not possible to allot police personnel at each place of worship. However we are keen to restart the police-public initiative of jointly monitoring the religious institutions in the city," Nasik rural SP Dr Nikhil Gupta said.

Meanwhile, the police in Malegaon had recently issued a circular calling for all citizens to be alert about suspicious persons and inform their local police station about unknown people visiting the city.

"Security or no security people are going to turn up at mosques. It is however sad to see religious establishments being attacked," Hamidiya mosque's chief Imam Maulan Abdul Bari said. Maulan Bari who played a key role in handling Malegaon's volatile mobs after the blast was however clear that the authorities needed to increase security at mosques.

"I have seen small children dying in front of me. I hope that the government does take the requiste steps to ensure that such things do not happen at any other place of worship in the country," he said.

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