Now that Owaisi is in jail, how about Praveen Togadia? #hatespeech

JANUARY 9, 2013

Guest post by MAHTAB ALAM,

Akbaruddin Owaisi, an MLA of Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly, who belongs to a Hyderabad-based political party All India Majlis-e-Ittihad al-Muslimin, better known as MIM, and its floor leader in the Assembly made an inflammatory speech against Hindus on 24 December 2012 at a public meeting in Adilabad District. The speech attracted widespread condemnation by Muslim activists, rightly so, apart from left, liberal individuals and organizations. Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan, President, All India Muslim Majlis e Mushawarat (AIMMM), an umbrella body of prominent Indian Muslim organizations termed it ‘a hate and rash speech’ arguing, ‘words that should never have been uttered by a responsible person, let alone a political leader, were used’.

Shabnam Hashmi, a prominent social activist and who has been relentlessly working on the issue of minority rights registered an FIR in Delhi against Owaisi stating, ‘the whole speech is highly objectionable, inflammatory and against the values of our constitution, democracy and secular values’. Similarly, FIRs were also registered in the State invoking section 295 A (for deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings) and 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups) of Indian Penal Code (IPC). Owaisi was arrested finally arrested on Tuesday (8th January) and sent to 14-day judicial custody.

However, there was a small section of Muslims, mostly individuals, who held this as an illustration of the ‘double standards of civil society and state machinery’. The crux of their argument was, that while governments take speedy actions and act in a haste in the cases where Muslims are involved even in petty crimes, criminals belonging to the majority community roam free despite being involved in all sorts of serious crimes such as communal carnage, mass murders, looting and rapes, let alone the cases of hate speech. While on the surface, these allegations might appear as a desperate attempt to defend communalists belonging to the Muslim community – and indeed some of them may be—the fact is that these claims are not that far removed from reality.

Sample this. Praveen Togadia, Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s (VHP) international working President, during his recent visit to Hyderabad in December last year, made an equally inflammatory and communal speech while addressing a press conference in the city. The VHP president at the press conference on the issue of controversial Bhagya Lakshmi Mandir- Charminar threatened Muslims by saying that ‘VHP will convert Hyderabad into Ayodhya if Hindus are not allowed to perform Puja’. The simple fact is that Hindus have never been stopped from performing Puja. He further thundered the VHP would teach Muslims of Hyderabad a lesson that they would never forget. Following this, a few cases have been registered against him but the government is yet to act. It is well known of course that this is not the first time when he has made such a speech. In fact, several such cases are pending against Togadia, not only in Hyderabad but in different parts of the country; and the police and the governments have never acted against him.

And Togadia is not a solitary soldier: there is a veritable contingent of Togadias whose prime work is hate mongering and inciting violence, especially in situations where there are higher chances of communal disturbance and violence. It has become almost a routine for these forces to fuel violence in name of protecting their religion, religious tenets and identity or interests of their fellow religionists and people. Ashok Singhal, Adityanath Yogi, Uma Bharti, Sadhvi Ritambhara and Raj/Udhav Thackeray to name a few. What is strange, though often understood, that they draw their supports from political parties of all hues. While certified communal political parties like BJP and Shiv Sena lent them open support, self- appointed secular parties like Congress and Samajwadi Party would never bother to book them according to the law of the land despite ample evidence being available. Hence, these cases of selective action only prove that our governments utilize double standards for crimes of similar nature, for criminals belonging to minority and majority communities. Varun Gandhi is the sole exception, and there are indications already that the UP government may go slow on him, after he submitted an application for quashing of the case against him.

It was interesting also to see how the Owaisi saga played out in the electronic media. Watching these programmes, one would think that Owaisi was the originator of hate speech in India, and not simply one among the many who blight public discourse through their venom. TV anchors after anchor summoned ‘Muslim’ politicians from a range of political parties daring them to condemn Owaisi. Would the Congress Party spokesperson be ever asked to condemn Togadia – or Rithambara or Uma –as a Hindu or as someone opposed to their politics or ideology?  Why then this rush to seek declarations from Muslim politicians as Muslims? Coming just months after all TV channels were paying obeisance to Bal Thackeray, whose political career was built on hate and its articulation, the self righteousness of the various channel heads is only amusing.

So now that Owaisi is thankfully arrested, the larger question is: what about Singhals, Yogis, Bhartis and Thackerays? Will they ever be arrested and sent to jail like Owaisi for their umpteen numbers of crimes? This must be answered; at least to show that we as a constitutionally declared secular country – considered to be the world’s largest democracy – do not practice two different sets of rules for majority and minority. Remember, mere lip service like in the past would not work this time as it would only further the argument of the State practicing double standards.

Is anyone listening?

(Mahtab Alam is a Delhi based civil rights activist and freelance journalist. Email: activist dotjournalist at gmail dot com.)

Akbaruddin Owaisi – You are an Enemy of Muslims (and Hindus) #hatespeech

Guest post by IRSHADUL HAQUE
Translated from Hindi by Shuddhabrata Sengupta

Akbaruddin Owaisi, you are an enemy of Muslims. You are the kind of
adversary who lurks like a snake in the grass, ready to strike at the
person who cares for that patch. Your desire to provoke a
confrontation between India’s 25 crore Muslims and 100 crore Hindus
reminds us of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. This is why Javed Akhtar has gone
to the extent of calling you ‘the greatest enemy of Muslims’. I know
that I am not alone when I find myself agreeing with this view. Many
other Indian Muslims will be in agreement with me.

Your behaviour and your actions are reminiscent of the second phase of
Jinnah’s political career. Do not forget that Jinnah played his part
in diviging this country to fulfill his political ambition. Of course
he was amply helped in this task by Hindu Fundamentalists like
Savarkar. But today’s India is not the India of 1947. You might have a
voice amongst a section of Muslims in Hyderabad, but the Muslims of
India are not your inherited property.

You belong to the party All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM)
that your grandfather Abdul Vahid Owaisi founded, and which your
family has been running like a private limited company for the last
fifty-sixty years. The Owaisi family is exactly like the Thackeray
family of Maharashtra.  After your grandfather’s death, your father
Salahuddin Owaisi took charge of the family firm, and tried to expand
it. Your father occasionally roared, often talked about Muslims and
what is happening to them, and occasionally spoke against Hindus, but
you have crossed all boundaries.

People like you occasionally come out of your lair, roar, and then
hide once again in its darkness. You do not have the capacity to
engage with anything outside Hyderabad. Raj Thackeray, like you, can
spout venom in Shivaji Park about North Indian and Bihari Hindus and
Muslims, but does not have the guts to step outside Mumbai. Ordinary
people in this country now understand well that people like you and
the Thackerays are complicit with each other. One lets out his bile
against North Indian and Bihari Hindus and Muslims and the other
against a hundred crore Hindus.

Listen, Akbaruddin Owaisi. Try and understand this land. Your family
may have been feudal lords for generations but you need to get out of
the mentality of treating Muslims as your fief. You, and your elder
brother Asaduddin Owaisi are carrying the burden of the politics that
your father gave you in inheritance. Raj and Uddhav Thackeray are like
you, heirs to this fiefdom of hatred. It is possible that a minuscule
section of the 42 percent of the population of Hyderabad (the Muslims
of Hyderabad) benefit from your brand of politics, but the 25 crore
Muslims who live everywhere and anywhere in India have nothing to do
with your desire to ‘teach a hundred crore Hindus a lesson’.

The six to seven MLAs of the MIM might carry some weight in the Andhra
Pradesh Legislative Assembly, but your party has  neither any
identity, nor any relevance outside of Andhra Pradesh. This is because
ordinary Hindus and Muslims have no desire to fight with each other
and bear no hatred towards each other. It is people like you and the
Bukhari clan (Imams of the Jama Masjid in Delhi) who try to teach
hatred to the Muslims of India. Your tradition links you to Praveen
Togadia and Ashok Singhal of the VHP and to the Bukharis.

Yes, I do admit that your clan runs four dozen schools, a few
hospitals, a few orphanages and some ‘sewing centers’ for poor women
in Hyderabad. You are also the managing-director of the Owaisi
Hospital. You arrange for the treatment of the sick. All that is just
as well. But this does not mean that in return for these ‘favors’ you
have the license to make hate-filled speeches to a gathering of
fifteen-twenty thousand Muslims in Nirmal Town, in Adilabad, adjoining
Hyderabad. It does not mean that you are entitled to have your cronies
give the cry of ‘Nara-e-Taqbeer, Allah-o-Akbar’ as a means to enact a
form of religious blackmail.

On that day, on the 24th of December, the way in which you wear
roaring in your Shervani, was reminiscent of Jinnah. You are deluded
if you think that if the police can be made to stay away then you can
teach one hundred crore Muslims a lesson. Leave Hindus aside for
themoment, Muslims themselves will teach you a democratic lesson that
you will find impossible to forget. Try and step out of your lair in
Hyderabad, just for once.m

Your public life had its ‘moment of awakening’ even before the 24th of
December. But even in your private life you have distinguished
yourself by your violence. You have had a history of personal enmity
with a Hyderabadi property dealer like Mohammad Pehelwan. This led to
assaults  with knives and bullets in 2011. If your personal enmity
with another Muslim peaks in confrontations over property that use
bullets and ammunition, then how can you honestly hope  represent the
struggles of poor and deprived Muslims. You issues fatwas of death to
Taslima Nasreen. Prevent her from coming to Hyderabad. All you do is
play with Muslim sentiments.

I would advise you to learn restraint in your statements and speeches.
If you have such a great desire to make your mark as a ‘Muslim Leader’
it would be better if you were to pay some attention to the actual
problems of poor and pasmanda Muslim communities, in a manner that
your father and grandfather tried to do, at least to a certain extent.

This text was first published in Hindi in




Hate speech: Owaisi seeks 4 more days to surrender before police

 Posted on Jan 07, 2013 at 11:23am IST

Hyderabad: Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi, in a row over a hate speech, returned early on Monday morning from London to a rousing reception by his supporters at the airport. A hospital ambulance was at his residence for a reported check up on Monday morning.

He was likely to surrender to the police on Monday after being booked for delivering a hate speech, but Owaisi has approached the investigating officer in Adilabad seeking four days extension for appearance. Prohibitory orders, however, remain in force in Nirmal town of the district till 6 pm on Monday in anticipation of his meeting with police.

He was directed by the court to appear before the police in Adilabad district on Monday and in Nizamabad town on January 8. When asked if the police anticipated any trouble due to his appearance, the police officer said, “Everything will be taken care of”. On Saturday, Andhra Pradesh DGP V Dinesh Reddy said Owaisi informed police that he was undergoing treatment in London and would appear before it shortly.

Another notice was served to the MIM legislator by Osmania police asking him to appear before it on January 10. While two FIRs were registered suo motu at Adilabad and Nizamabad districts, a third case was registered by Osmania University police, following a court directive after Owaisi allegedly used inflammatory language against a particular community last month.

Fresh complaints continued to pour in against Owaisi from Malkangiri and Vanasthalipuram, though no cases have been registered, police said.

Owaisi, who represents Chandrayangutta Assembly constituency, has been booked under Sec 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion) and Sec 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings) of IPC.

The MIM legislator has also been booked under Sec 121 (waging or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against the Government of India) of IPC.

Meanwhile, TDP and BJP leaders held protests at various places in the state, demanding action against Owaisi. TDP MLA Revant Reddy demanded that Owaisi be disqualified for his comments.

Speaking at a protest, state BJP president G Kishan Reddy said that steps should be taken to ensure that Owaisi returns to India to face the law.

(With additional information from PTI) 



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