Discomfited by the anticipated presence of All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (MIM) president Asaduddin Owaisi, the Pune police on Monday denied permission for a gathering on the question of Muslim reservation in which the Hyderabad-based MIM leader was due to take part on grounds that his presence could “provoke communal tension.”
Already, the gathering, under the name of ‘Muslim Arakshan Parishad’ that was due on February 4 at the city’s Golibar Maidan, had heated the city’s political barometer in anticipation of Mr. Owaisi’s speech.
“We wanted to preclude any untoward incident that might give rise to social tensions,” said a senior police officer requesting anonymity.
According to sources, the congregation was scrapped at the behest of the Shiv Sena top brass, who rushed off a delegation in Pune to city Police Commissioner Satish Mathur, demanding that they would “not tolerate any comment against Hindus” on the occasion.
“Owaisi has a history of giving inflammatory speeches. So, we had requested the police to take action and scrap the gathering,” said the Sena’s newly-elected Pune unit chief Vinayak Nimhan.
Meanwhile, the organizers have protested the police action stating that the gathering was not a political meeting under the banner of the MIM.
“The Maharashtra Action Committee and Mulniwasi Muslim Manch are the organizers in this case. Along with Mr. Owaisi, Justice (retd.) B. G. Kolse Patil was to be a keynote speaker while leaders from the Aam Aadmi Party were also invited,” said Anjum Inamdar, one of the organisers.
Mr. Inamdar said that the ground had already been requisitioned for the occasion and that the meeting would go ahead as scheduled.
“The reservation for Maharashtra’s Muslims is an issue that concerns all communities across the State. Let the Sena come and judge for themselves whether there is any political hue to our gathering,” said Mr. Inamdar, remarking that he had faith the police would reconsider their decision.
The controversial Mr. Owaisi, while no stranger to bans and proscriptions on his meetings in Maharashtra, was however allowed to address a meeting on the Muslim reservation issue in Beed district earlier this month.