In another setback to the MIM, a court in Andhra Pradesh's Medak
district Monday sent its chief and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi
to jail in a case booked against him seven years ago.
The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) chief surrendered before a
court in Sangareddy town, 65 km from here, and was sent in
judicial remand till Feb 2. He was subsequently shifted to a jail
in the town.
His lawyers filed a bail petition on his behalf but the court
adjourned the hearing to Tuesday.
The MIM chief's arrest sparked tension and violent protests in
parts of Hyderabad. Protestors stoned shops and buses in some
places. Shops and business establishments were shut down in the
old city and other Muslim-majority areas as MIM leaders called for
Police beefed up security in Hyderabad and other towns in
Telangana region. Hyderabad Police Commissioner Anurag Sharma said
barring minor incidents, the situation was peaceful.
Owaisi, who is prime accused in the case, surrendered after the
court dismissed his petition for cancellation of the non-bailable
warrant pending against him.
The MIM leader, his younger brother Akbaruddin Owaisi and others
were booked by police on March 16, 2005, for obstructing officials
from demolishing a place of worship to facilitate road extension
at Muttangi village.
Police reopened the case against them after Akbar Owaisi, a
sitting legislator, was arrested Jan 8 for making hate speeches in
Nirmal town of Adilabad district. Charged with sedition, waging
war against nation and criminal conspiracy, the younger Owaisi is
currently lodged in a jail in the district.
Police had presented Akbar Owaisi, as he is popularly called,
before Sangareddy court on Jan 16. The court had adjourned the
hearing till Jan 28.
Tension also prevailed in Sangareddy as MIM workers protested Asad
Owaisi's arrest and people in some areas voluntarily shut down the
shops. Police baton-charged a group of protestors near the court
complex and have beefed up the security in the communally
sensitive town. MIM has called for a shutdown Tuesday.
Asad Owaisi's arrest is a big blow to the party as it came close
on the heel of Akbar Owaisi's arrest. A court in Nirmal adjourned
to Wednesday hearing on the bail petition of Akbar.
MIM, which has seven members in 294-member Andhra Pradesh
assembly, had severed ties with the ruling Congress in November
last year over the expansion of a temple abutting historic
Charminar in Hyderabad.
The party along with some other Muslim organisations had also
launched a campaign to expose what it called communal attitude of
Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, and organised public meeting in
various towns. Addressing a public meeting at Nirmal, Akbar Owaisi
made provocative comments, which finally led to his arrest.
Asad Owaisi blamed the vindictive attitude of the Congress
government for his brother's arrest. Addressing a public meeting
at Narayanpet in Mahabubnagar district Sunday, he said MIM was
facing challenging times, but would not be cowed by false cases
and would fight back.
Political analysts say the party is facing unprecedented
situation. This is the first time in the party's post-Independence
history that its top leadership is behind bars.
The Owaisi family has dominated Hyderabad politics since Abdul
Wahid Owaisi, the grandfather of Asad and Akbar, revived MIM with
a new constitution in 1958. The party, which was established in
1928 with the aim to keep then Hyderabad State independent, was
banned after the state's merger with the Indian Union in 1948.
Taking over the mantle from his father in 1976, Sultan Salahuddin
Owaisi made it a powerful political force, increasing the party's
strength from a single assembly seat to five in 1980s. He was
first elected to the Lok Sabha from Hyderabad in 1984 and since
then the Owaisi family has maintained its grip on the
Asad Owaisi, a London educated barrister, was first elected to the
state assembly in 1994 from Charminar constituency. He moved to
the Lok Sabha after his father retired from electoral politics due
to ill-health. Salahuddin Owaisi passed away in 2008.
In 2009 elections, the party extended its base outside the old
city to increase its strength in the assembly to seven members -
all elected from Hyderabad.