Hate speech case: MIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi arrested; police begin questioning

Last Updated: Tue, Jan 08, 2013 19:33 hrs

Hyderabad: Amidst high drama, MIM MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi, who is facing multiple cases for his alleged " hate speech", was on Tuesday arrested after medical tests in a government hospital here a day after his arrival from London.

Owaisi, who was subjected to medical examination at the Gandhi Hospital here for his fitness status, was straightaway taken under high security in a convoy of cars to Nirmal in Adilabad district, more than 200km from here.

Owaisi shifted to Nirmal, police begin questioning

Owaisi reached Nirmal town in Andhra Pradesh's Adilabad district late Tuesday night.

Amid tight security, the legislator was brought to the rural police station in Nirmal town, about 200 km from Hyderabad, at 10 p.m. There was tension near the police station for some time as some legislators staged a protest when they were not allowed proceed towards it. Police arrested two legislators for violating prohibitory orders.

Police officers began questioning Akbar Owaisi with regard to the speech delivered by him at a public meeting in the town on Dec 22. He was accompanied by his younger brother Burhanuddin Owaisi, editor of Urdu daily 'Etemaad' and his lawyer.

Owaisi, to be produced before a magistrate later, is likely to be lodged in the sub-jail in the town.

MIM workers tried to stop the convoy near the town but were dispersed by the police. The protestors raised slogans against the chief minister.

Nirmal turned into a fortress with police forces deployed across the town to prevent any untoward incident. Some leaders of MIM and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were arrested as a precautionary measure.

Prohibitory orders banning assembly of five or more people were imposed in Nirmal and several other towns in the district and also in Nizamabad, where the MIM leader is facing another case.

The MIM legislator was taken into custody after subjecting him to a series of medical tests at the government-run Gandhi Hospital here through the day to ascertain if he was fit to face questioning.

Owaisi, the floor leader of his party in the Andhra Pradesh assembly, is expected to be produced before a court in Nirmal in connection with the registration of a case against him for alleged provocative speeches regarding the disputed Bhagyalakshmi shrine in the Charminar area.

Complaints have been filed against him in regard to the same speeches in various police stations in Hyderabad and other parts of the state.

On medical grounds, Owaisi had sought four days time to appear before the police which had booked him under various sections of the IPC in Nizamabad and Osmania University police here for the alleged "hate speeches"

As he failed to appear before the police, the investigating officer of Nirmal (rural) police A Raghu visited Owaisi's house in Banjara Hills here on Monday evening and found that he looked fit to face questioning, according to police sources.

However, Owaisi complained of "internal pain". Police took him to Gandhi hospital and was subjected to medical examination by government doctors at Gandhi Hospital on Tuesday. After getting the medical report, the police arrested him.

As the news of his arrest spread, hundreds of MIM party workers and his supporters gathered in front of Gandhi Hospital. Police had a tough time in controlling the protesters and preventing them from gatecrashing into the hospital.

Police have already intensified security arrangements in the city, particularly in Old City -- a stronghold of MIM Party, by deploying additional forces as a precautionary measure.

Earlier in the day, a police escort team reached the MLA's house at Banjara Hills and took him to Gandhi Hospital here after the Nirmal rural police issued a notice to Akbaruddin to make himself present for the medical examination.

Akbaruddin has already been issued notices to appear before Nizamabad Police on Tuesday and also before the Osmania University Police on January 10 in connection with the further probe into the cases registered against him.

Owaisi has approached the Andhra Pradesh high court seeking to quash all the FIRs registered against him at different police stations in the state.

Tension prevailed outside the Hospital as scores of supporters of Owaisi assembled near the premises and raised anti-government slogans.

Additional security forces were also deployed in parts of the Old City as a precautionary measure following speculation that Owaisi would be arrested after his medical tests.

Gandhi Hospital superintendent Dr S Mahbub said medical examination of Akbaruddin was conducted by a team of five doctors.

"A bullet is there on the lower side of his back," he medical superintendent said. A rival group had attacked Akbaruddin in April 2011 over a land dispute issue in Barkas area here. He had sustained bullet injuries in the attack.

Meanwhile, protests and demonstrations continued by BJP workers and VHP members at Indira Park and Alwal here and in Adilabad and Nizamabad districts demanding immediate arrest of Owaisi.

Old Hyderabad tense after Owaisi's arrest

A tense atmosphere prevailed in the old city of Hyderabad on Tuesday following the arrest of Owaisi.

The usually busy markets around the historic Charminar wore a near-deserted look as shopkeepers downed shutters after the word spread about Akbar Owaisi's arrest. Shops and business establishments were also shutdown voluntarily in the many parts of communally-sensitive old city.

Police sounded an alert in areas under the limits of 15 police stations in the old city. Armed policemen from the state forces and the central paramilitary forces were deployed to maintain law and order.

The security was specially tightened at the temple abutting Charminar. It was the row over the expansion of temple which led to communal tension and MIM severing its ties with ruling Congress party in the state in November last year.

MIM has seven members in 294-member state assembly. All its legislators are from Hyderabad, the traditional stronghold of the party. Akbar Owaisi is the leader of MIM in the assembly.

MIM chief and Akbar's elder brother Asaduddin Owaisi is MP from Hyderabad. The party has been representing Hyderabad in Lok Sabha for almost three decades.

BJP accuses Congress of delaying Owaisi's arrest

Accusing Congress of delaying the arrest of Owaisi, BJP on Tuesday alleged that the Centre maintained 'double-standards' by giving 'protection' to such people while cracking down on peaceful protesters like Ramdev and Anna Hazare.

"BJP strongly condemns the Centre and the Andhra Pradesh Congress government for acting as helping hands for MIM MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi to become a hero out of his hate speech," party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.

He alleged that Congress had delayed the arrest of Owaisi as the party depends on MIM support in Hyderabad. "We have doubts about Congress' intentions and policies," he told reporters here.

Owaisi, facing multiple cases for his alleged hate speech, was today arrested by Andhra Pradesh Police. He was earlier subjected to medical examination at the Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad.

BJP alleged that Owaisi made such statements every three months as a part of a "political strategy".

The main opposition said instead of arresting Owaisi promptly after his return from London, the government allowed a "heroic welcome" and gave him police protection. "This is a dubious and condemnable act," Javadekar said.

He maintained that as per the criminal procedure, Owaisi should have been arrested upon arrival and presented before a court and only then given medical treatment, if at all required. BJP criticised the government for "delay" in arresting Owaisi and allowing him to use "ill-health as an alibi".

"The double standards of the Congress government is writ large by the fact that Yoga guru Baba Ramdev and his supporters who were holding a peaceful protest were lathicharged in a midnight crackdown and Anna Hazare was arrested to prevent him from participating in a hunger strike," Javadekar said.

He also said that a man in Pudducherry was arrested for tweeting against Union Minister P Chidambaram's son Karti.

BJP alleged that in the cases of Owaisi and Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the government gives them "wilful protection" instead of arresting them. "Geelani had given a hate speech in Lutyen's Delhi," he said, adding that he was not arrested.

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