Akbar first MIM leader to be jailed on serious charges

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 09, 2013 10:41 hrs

Hyderabad: Controversies are not new to leaders of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM). But Akbaruddin Owaisi is the first leader in its post-independence history to face serious charges like sedition and waging war against the nation.

While MIM leaders were jailed during the 1975-77 Emergency and also for political reasons, Akbar became perhaps the first leader to be incarcerated for hate speeches.

A third-time member of the Andhra Pradesh assembly, the MIM firebrand is in serious trouble for his speeches delivered in Nirmal and Nizamabad towns last month.

The 42-year-old is also facing the risk of being disqualified as a legislator with leaders cutting across the political spectrum demanding action against him for his alleged venomous speeches.

Ever since he discontinued his medical education to enter politics in 1993, Akbar thrived on fiery speeches, targeting political rivals and highlighting the 'injustice' and 'excesses' on Muslims in the country.

Even before he contested an election, he was a huge hit with the masses in the Old City, especially youths who would wait for hours in the night to hear him.

Those were the days when his father and MIM chief Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi was facing the toughest challenge to his political domination in Hyderabad from Amanullah Khan, who had parted ways to float the Majlis Bahchao Tehreek (MBT).

Akbar emerged as a tall leader, defeating Amanullah Khan in his stronghold in 1999. After his elder brother Asaduddin Owaisi moved to the Lok Sabha in 2004, Akbar became the party head in the assembly.

Akbar survived an attempt on his life by his rivals in May 2011. He was shot and stabbed by four attackers.

Akbar, who still has a bullet embedded in his thigh, began to be called 'Sher-e-Deccan' (Tiger of Deccan) by his followers.

While police have booked cases against the Owaisi brothers on many occasions and in some cases warrants too were issued, they were never arrested, thanks to MIM's friendly ties with party in power.

Political observers point out that most of the cases were booked when they were leading public protests on various issues and in some cases the police was also was soft due to political pressure.

This time, Akbar Owaisi's rabblerousing speeches were seen by his rivals as crossing all limits of decency and decorum in public life.

The MIM, which severed its ties with ruling Congress in November, found isolated this time.

Akbar comes from a family which dominated Hyderabad politics for over four decades. It was his grandfather Abdul Wahid Owaisi who revived MIM with a new constitution in 1958.

The party, which was established in 1928 to keep the then Hyderabad State independent, was banned after the state's merger with Indian Union in 1948.

Taking over the mantle from his father in 1976, Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi made a powerful political force. From a single seat in the assembly, MIM increased its strength to five in the 1980s and seven in 2009.

Critics say the party cashed in on the communal polarization but the MIM points out that it made a Hindu leader the mayor of Hyderabad.

Salahuddin Owaisi was first elected to the Lok Sabha from Hyderabad in 1984. Since then the Owaisi family has maintained its grip on the seat.

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