Tension prevailed in the parts of the Old City late on Wednesday night with dozens of protesters converging at the Asha Talkies road and raising slogans against the BJP’s suspended legislator T. Raja Singh’s objectionable comments about Prophet Muhammed. The use of force to disperse the crowd and the dragging of an inmate from inside a house drew condemnation from Hyderabad parliamentarian Asaduddin Owaisi who described it as a use of “disproportionate force”.
After police had on Wednesday night cleared the Shalibanda crossroads, which had become the go-to spot for protests earlier, protesters began to gather at the Asha Talkies Roads, opposite the Golden Jewel building. By late evening on Wednesday, police had picked up over 200 protesters.
While police exercised restraint for a good part of the night, the protesters continued to raise slogans. The hurling of stones was reported at the spot around 9.30 p.m. This forced the police to resort to lathi-charging the protesters and dispersing them into areas such as the Asha Talkies lane, Qazipura, and the interior areas of Shaliabanda.
However, the protesters returned to the scene which led to the barricading of the Asha Talkies lane. The protesters continued to raise slogans. Despite being asked to move away, they did not relent. Around 11.25 p.m., police rushed into the protesters, and lathi-charged them sending them scurrying for cover.
Video clips began to surface which purportedly showed police kicking-in the main door of a house, dragging out inmates and beating them. This also led to tension, prompting the intervention of Mr. Owaisi and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen corporator Mustafa Ali Muzaffar and former corporator Samed bin Abdaat.
Taking to Twitter, Mr. Owaisi said that legislator Ahmed Balala and corporators were “de-escalating” the situation and that on his intervention approximately 90 protesters were released.
Criticising the use of force, he added, “The youth were released from Kanchanbagh PS at 1:30 AM. In one case, police had used disproportionate force & barged into a home & detained 5 youths. This isn’t acceptable. They’ve been released on my representation. I asked our corporators to drop the youths back home.”
This situation is a direct result of Raja Singh’s hate speech. He must be sent to jail at the earliest. I also reiterate my appeal to maintain peace. #Hyderabad is our home, it should not fall prey to communalism,” he tweeted.