Asaduddin Owaisi surrenders, sent to jail

Hyderabad, Jan 21 (IANS) 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 a strike.

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 constituency.

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.

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