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‘Hate’ cuffs on MLA

- Majlis leader Owaisi arrested day after return from London
Owaisi after his arrest. (PTI)

Hyderabad, Jan. 8: Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi was arrested today in connection with an alleged “hate speech” that had led to complaints at several police stations in Andhra Pradesh.

The arrest, following a check-up in a government hospital, came a day after the 42-year-old minority leader returned from London.

The administration deployed additional forces in the old city area, an MIM stronghold, after dozens of party supporters raised anti-government slogans outside Mahatma Gandhi Hospital where Owaisi had been taken when he complained of “internal pain”.

The former Congress ally, accused of making a provocative speech regarding a disputed shrine, was later driven to Nirmal town police station in Adilabad, over 200km from Hyderabad. “His statement is being recorded by the investigating officer at the police station,” Adilabad SP Sarvashresta Tripathi told PTI.

Owaisi has already been issued notices to appear before Nizamabad police and Osmania University police in connection with the cases against him. His plea to quash the FIRs is likely to come up before the high court tomorrow.

Trouble had been brewing for Owaisi ever since his TV channel — TV4 — played up his alleged hate speech at Nirmal town. His speech had also been uploaded on YouTube.

Agency reports said Owaisi had sought four days’ time to appear before the police but, when he didn’t, an officer from Nirmal (rural) police visited his house in Banjara Hills last evening.

He was taken for tests to the government hospital today after he complained of internal pain. PTI quoted hospital superintendent S. Mahbub as saying that a report was submitted to the police after a team of five doctors examined Owaisi, the MIM floor leader in the Assembly. “He was subjected to different medical tests, including CT scan, ECG, blood tests and ultrasound scan, among others, and we have given the report to the police,” the doctor.

Owaisi and his brother, MP Asaduddin Owaisi, had earlier demanded the arrest of VHP leader Praveen Togadia for alleged inflammatory comments during a recent visit to Hyderabad. Asaduddin has also blamed chief minister Kiran Reddy for walking into what he called a BJP trap. The MIM later snapped its three-decade alliance with the Congress.

Sources said the party, which has seven MLAs and one MP, had enough support to upset the Congress in at least 38 Assembly and four parliamentary seats in the state.

In the old city, a curfew-like situation prevailed. Paramilitary forces staged a march in Nirmal town. In its report on the ground situation, the Intelligence Bureau said there could be trouble in certain pockets unless the police acted fast.