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Published in the 16-31 Oct 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Communal harmony during Ganesh procession

Hyderabad: Police here heaved a sigh of relief on 27 September as the Ganesh procession passed off peacefully amid tight security and rare scenes of communal harmony. For the first time, a Muslim minister and a Muslim police officer welcomed the Ganesh procession at the historic Charminar, which is also one of the sensitive points in the walled quarters, and at Moazzam Jahi Market. Minister for Information & Public Relations Mohammed Ali Shabbir and additional commissioner of police A.K. Khan welcomed the procession from the dais erected by Bhagyanagar Ganesh Utsav Samiti. 

For the third consecutive year, Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), which has a strong base in the old city, erected a special dais to welcome the idols. Its Hindu corporators S. Rajmohan and M. Durga Singh made arrangements for distributing drinking water and "prasadam" among people. MIM's initiative came in for praise from Congress, TRS and other parties. Narendra, who was earlier associated with BJP, personally came to MIM's dais to laud the efforts of Muslim party. 

The Peace Committee comprising both Hindus and Muslims also supplied drinking water to devotees. Confederation of Voluntary Organisations (COVA), working for communal harmony, also assisted police in the smooth conduct of the procession. "The city is known for its long history of communal harmony and brotherhood under Muslim rule. We have joined hands to ensure smooth and peaceful conduct of the procession," said Nazeeruddin, one of the COVA volunteers. 

Mumbai, a city of past conflagrations, also witnessed communal harmony on the occasion. Thirty-three lifeguards with the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) watched over the crowds at Girgaum Chowpatty on the final day of Ganpati immersion on 27 September. Of these, 22 were Muslims.

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