Hyderabad: Mecca Masjid parking lot has been serving as home for people displaced during Operation Polo, better known as the Police Action for over seven decades.
The mosque currently does not have a parking of its own, people who come to offer prayer have to park their vehicles in random places or they have to use the paid parking available opposite to Mecca Masjid.
The Masjid’s authorities have written to the government as they want back 23,000 sq. yd parcel of land to use it as parking.
Who lives in the camps near Mecca Masjid:
Forty-eight-year-old Ghani Miya says that his family migrated to the city and settled down in Muhajireen camp in the aftermath of the Indian Army entering Hyderabad State as it was known then.
As the years passed, the temporary camp became the permanent address for Mr Ghani Miya’s family and others like him. The camp now has small tenements housing families of up to eight members who pay a monthly rent to the minorities welfare department, mentions Deccan Chronicle in an article.
“My father fled the violence in Aurangabad and took shelter in the camp here. He used to tell us that his family was among the affluent ones, but lost everything during the riots and fled to save their life,” Mr Ghani Miya recalls.
Around 200 families took shelter in the almost 23,000 sq. yd area of the historic Masjid, says Congress leader Mohammed Ghouse.
“They have continued to live here for generations and eke out their livelihood by doing menial jobs. Seventy years have passed but their lives have not changed. A handful of families have moved away to other localities and stay in rented premises,” said Mr Ghouse.
The people living in the camps are in sheer misery. Men in the households work as rickshaw pullers or salesmen, whereas the women make lac bangles.
“It is the only place in the city that relates directly to the events of Police Action and every house here has a tragic tale to tell,” says Mr Ghouse.
Masjid authorities seek return of land
The land was bought for the Masjid by Nizam VII Mir Osman Ali Khan in the 1930s.
“It served as a parking place till 1948 when families who were displaced during the Police Action were given temporary shelter. Of late, permanent buildings have come up on the land parcel,” said Masjid superintendent Mohammed Abdul Qadeer Siddiqui.
The entire area would be converted into pedestrian zone and there is a need of parking space. Authorities have written to the government to relocate those staying in the Muhajireen camp and hand over the land back to the Masjid, Mr Siddiqui added.