Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police Dinesh Reddy on Thursday denied any political interference in the alleged hate speech case against All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi. Claiming that Owaisi could be arrested for making the alleged hate speech following the registration of an FIR against the MLA under Indian Penal Code Section 153(a) (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) by the Nirmal police station in Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh, the DGP said that police took time to act against him because they were seeking legal opinion since the MIM MLA is a people's representative.
Reddy said that the police needed to understand the language used by Owaisi, who is the younger brother of Lok Sabha MP and MIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi. After getting the translated version of Owaisi's speech, the police took suo motu cognizance of the speech and registered the case.
When asked why there was a delay in taking action, Reddy said, "Partly because there were language problems at the places he made the speeches. There was a difficulty in getting the transcripts and then this recorded portion. After local police got it, they were sent to Hyderabad for the legal opinion. "
The DGP said that police took time to act against Owaisi because they were seeking legal opinion as he is a people's representative.
"It is a bit uncharitable to say that. This state government is very particular to let law take its due course, irrespective of who the person is," Reddy replied when asked if the police had been reluctant in taking action due to political interference. "No, since he has gone for treatment. We thought let him go for treatment and continue with the prosecution," he added.
Another case is likely to be registered against Owaisi in Nizamabad district as well following a Hyderabad court's order. The court had on Thursday ordered the police to register FIR against Akbaruddin Owaisi for an alleged hate speech made by him even as Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy assured that "anyone who hurts sentiments will be dealt with as per law."
"If anyone has hurt sentiments you can be rest assured they will be firmly dealt with. Congress is a secular government and anyone who hurts sentiments will be dealt with as per law," Reddy said. "Law will take its own course. We have not directed the police in any way. Anyone who has broken law will be dealt with. The government will not take action, the police will," Reddy added.
The court order came on a petition filed by a city-based businessman S Venkatesh Goud. The court of the 4th Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate directed the Osmania University Police to investigate the complaint under section 156 (3) of CrPc and file a report before it on January 28. The Hyderabad court on Thursday posted the hate speech case for January 7 and would record the statement of petitioner on the same date.
"I am really shocked and surprised about the criminal silence of the state government. Why is the Chief Minister, why is the DGP silent? Is the Andhra Pradesh government worried about the political fallout? The BJP will not take it lying down, we will take it up as a serious issue," BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu said in Hyderabad.
Owaisi had made the incendiary speech, using inflammatory and derogatory words, in Adilabad. A Hyderabad court has also admitted a criminal complaint against him.
This is not the first time that Akbaruddin, currently in London, has proved controversial. Five-years ago, he and his supporters had physically attacked the Bangladeshi writer, Taslima Nasreen for her alleged anti-Muslim views. The MIM was a part of the United Progressive Alliance till a few months ago even though the Owaisis have had a track record of raising the communal temperature with their speeches.
The hate speech of the junior Owaisi has raised questions of whether notions of secularism tend to be selective and why the Owaisis have been allowed to get away for so long. Akbaruddin is an MLA in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, representing the Chandrayangutta constituency in Hyderabad.