Finally, a criminal case has been registered in a local court in Hyderabad against Akbaruddin Owaisi, senior leader of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) for his alleged hate speech against Hindus, which is also alleged to have contained derogatory content against Hindu Gods and Goddesses.
Such speeches from the Owaisi brothers (Asaduddin and Akbaruddin) aren’t new, and they have been tolerated for quite some time now thanks to the tacit “no-interference” policy of past and current Congress-led State governments in what goes on in Hyderabad’s “Old City”.
A speech on similar lines was delivered last December in MIM’s Nanded “Jalsa” in an attempt to make the MIM’s presence felt outside of Hyderabad. The content of the speech is not surprising considering the pro-Pakistan antecedents of the MIM/its founders. The party in its founding days was strongly associated with the Razakars, the pro-Nizam private militia which was infamous for the atrocities committed on Hyderabad’s Hindu population which ended only with the success of Operation Polo in 1948.
The MIM is an organization which takes immense pride in Islamic rule of medieval North India, and constantly cites it to radicalize the population in the Old City. Its hold over the electoral outcome in the Old City has been nearly hegemonic for the better part of the party’s existence (Muslims constitute close to 41% of Hyderabad’s population).
The Bhagyalakshmi Temple issue (brilliantly covered by CRI here) and reservation for Muslims in government jobs are the party’s current favourite issues. In particular, the Bhagyalakshmi Temple issue was the last straw before MIM walked out of the Congress-led government in AP.
What is disconcerting is that the MIM has been actively investing efforts in becoming a pan-India organization, which was evident from its role earlier this year in setting up “only-for-Muslims” relief camps in Assam during the Muslim-Bodo riots. The speech in Nanded was also part of the MIM’s agenda to nurture a political base in Maharashtra in those regions which have a significant Muslim population, such as Aurangabad.
Unfortunately, despite being well-educated and certainly better articulate than most elected representatives, both the Owaisi brothers have clearly put to use their education to foment hatred and give radicalism a sophisticated facade. Asaduddin Owaisi’s frequent presence on talk shows (courtesy @BDutt) ends up lending credence to his hollow claims of being the voice of “moderate Islam” in India, when the reality on the ground is that he is a known hardliner, with his speeches bordering on sedition and incitement to rioting.
Both the Owaisi brothers treat the Old City as their heirloom and ruthlessly silence legitimate political dissent even from within the Muslim community. The consequence being that the moderation observed in Muslim viewpoints during Chandrababu Naidu’s regime between 1995 and 2004, has been reduced to a nought. The use of the Hijab, which was not so common in the early 2000s and was at best restricted to the Old City, is now a part of the city’s cultural landscape.
To add to this, there is an increased radicalization among Muslim men returning from the Middle East which only adds to the city’s law and order woes. Loaded with dinars, dirhams and riyals , they tend to be brazenly defiant of the authorities and contemptuous of the Indian State.
The obvious question that comes to the mind is- if publicly stated opinions and positions of the MIM are so extreme with no thought spared for political correctness or legal implications, what must be the content, tone and tenor of opinions expressed in private? More importantly, do we have reason to be concerned about the content of instruction in the seminaries/madrassas in the Old City which have the blessings of the MIM?
Isn’t this the right time to engage the Hyderabadi Muslim community in a dialogue to wean it away from the poisonous ideology of the MIM before it is too late?