Hyderabad: AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi is known for his no-nonsense approach. A Lok Sabha MP from Hyderabad, Owaisi is in the thick of things these days given protests in the old city which is considered his stronghold. BJP MLA Raja Singh's insidious remarks against Prophet Muhammad have hurt the sentiments of Muslims across the state and country. Owaisi took some time off his busy schedule to talk to Coreena Suares and Kaniza Garari about the political situation post Raja Singh's remarks. Excerpts:
For the last three days, Old City is is on the edge over Raja Singh's remarks against Prophet Muhammed. All eyes are on Friday when Muslims will be offering congregational prayers. What measures are being taken to ensure peace and order in the city?
Friday will be a challenging day. I am hopeful it will pass off peacefully, Inshallah. People are angry, not just Muslims even other community members. I have not slept for the last three nights. We have been trying to calm the tempers. All our elected members and party workers are trying to control the situation. It is not surprising that Raja Singh has brought the situation to this pass. His video has now taken the issue to a completely different level. What can I say? It is such a bad video. It is a policy of the BJP to wreck peace in the city. They want political polarization in Telangana. They have tried everything but that did not help them out. Now they are resorting to communal polarization.
For the first time, BJP suspended Raja Singh within hours after the video. What does this imply?
It is an eyewash. The BJP will wash its hands off. Did they take any action against Nupur Sharma? No. In Telangana, such behavior is not accepted. There is a lot of silent anger in many non-Muslims. People have not taken this incident lightly. This aspect also plays a very important role.
I will say, it is Nupur Sharma 2.0. No matter what political affiliation one is, no one wants disturbances in Hyderabad. One part of the city is affected, but the tremors are felt all over. Everybody is tense. Charminar is a tourist spot. In the last three days, all small and big businesses have been hit. Yesterday, shops, commercial establishments, and hotels were shut down by the police at 7 pm. This has hit our business. Festival is round the corner and people come for shopping during evening hours. Shut down has upset every businessman. All these aspects affect the common man and their daily living. BJP is not realizing this aspect. People in Telangana will not accept this.
There are at least 10,000 techies from my constituency who work in and around Hitech City and they have has also been disturbed. Hyderabad cannot put up to such an environment.
Do you think Raja Singh's video was a tit-for-tat reaction to Munawar Farooqui show?
One may try to infer that. But Farooq's show did not call for such a video. If there was an objection to what the comedian said then a police complaint should have been filed. To say that the comedian poked fun at this, but using it as a pretext to abuse Prophet Mohammed is unacceptable. He did not stop at that. He went further and abused Islam also. Why did Raja Singh drag Farooqui's mother into this and then he took off on to another ugly level.
The entire episode has led to financial losses of vendors in and around Old City. On Wednesday, following the police's closure notice, many dairy and food products had to be thrown away because they were rendered unfit for human consumption. The arrest of Raja Singh is not the end of tension and much more.
But Raja Singh said that it was only a joke?
Raja Singh thinks he is the only wise person in Telangana. All of us are fools. This video was made and uploaded by Raja Singh. I have sent a message to the Chief Minister's office to ensure the due process of law is followed in the Prophet Mohammad's remarks case against BJP MLA T Raja Singh.
There is a deliberate attempt by the BJP to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere in Hyderabad. The government is duty-bound to maintain order. I insist that the voice samples of MLA Raja Singh should be sent for a forensic examination so that it helps the prosecution to prove their case during the trial.
Are these acts aimed to set a mood for the elections?
Let me tell you that the BJP party will not stop here. From what I understand, we are going to see more of these utterances from different corners of the Telangana. When Nupur Sharma passed blasphemous remarks, I said the same thing. These utterances are part of the script. Look what they are doing. Take the case of Bilkis Bano which is a classic example of their disregard. Where was the remission order for the 11 convicts till now? These acts of the BJP show that they can go to any extent.
Ahead of the Munugode by-poll, BJP is trying to polarize Telangana. It is all part of the script The suspension of BJP MLA Raja Singh is an eyewash. BJP has proved it in the case of Nupur Sharma. One can see that Nupur Sharma wasn't arrested.
Do you think the Telangana police goofed up by filing the case under Section 41 CrPC?
I do not suspect the TRS government. They went according to the rule book. It was quite surprising that the honorable Judge took note of this technical glitch and ordered accordingly. In the video, Raja Singh is openly saying that I will make one more video. That statement is sufficient but the honorable judge had a different take on it.
Will this impact Hyderabad's image of being tolerant, investment-friendly, and a development hub?
Hyderabad is synonymous with development and all the projects are going on. In the Old City, we too are busy with development works especially with the Nala-development project. Last eight years, the state has prospered and the image of the state is tolerant and development friendly. This video has hit the image.
Do you think this will end here? Or do you think there will be other strategies?
BJP will try to use whatever is in their stable. They have a very resourceful team in Telangana. That team is working day and night to create their space. For the state, Milad Julus, Ram Jayanthi, Hanuman Jayanthi, and rallies are taken out without any problem. Youth enthusiastically participate in these religious processions. It is a challenge for every political party to ensure that these pass off peacefully.