Rajat Sharma

Attack on AIMIM chief Owaisi must be unequivocally condemned

AKBA highly condemnable incident took place on Thursday at a toll plaza on Meerut-Delhi expressway, when two youths fired from 9 mm pistols at the convoy of All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi. The AIMIM leader was returning to Delhi after his election campaign in western UP.

Both the assailants have been arrested, and according to media reports, they have revealed that they belong to a Hindu outfit. They have been identified as Sachin Sharma, a law student from Badalpur, Greater Noida, and Shubham, from Saharanpur. An Alto car was also seized from the spot.

The Facebook account of Sachin Sharma carries a video of Hindu fundamentalist leader Yati Narsinghanand, who was recently arrested for giving a hate speech against Muslims. In one of his posts, Sachin had supported the act of Ram Bhakt Gopal, who was arrested for firing at anti-CAA protesters in Delhi in 2020.

The firing took place at Chhajarsi toll plaza near Pilkhuwa of Hapur district. Police have seized the car, weapons and the toll plaza video for further investigation. In my prime time show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ on Thursday night, I spoke to Owaisi, who described how the attack took place.

“We were returning from Meerut, when our convoy of four vehicles stopped at the toll plaza. Suddenly, I heard a loud sound, and I was told that our convoy is being fired at. I saw two attackers, one with a red dress with a hood, and the other in a white dress. I asked my driver to drive the car fast and hit the car that was in front of us. The other car hit one of the attackers, who was wearing a red hood. The other attacker started firing at our Fortuner vehicle. Our car tyre was punctured by bullets, and it stopped 5-6 km away from the toll plaza”, Owaisi said.

“We immediately took photos and videos of the bullet marks, and we decided to leave the place fast. I changed my vehicle and reached my home in Delhi. Later our people who went to the spot found that the red hood wearing assailant had been caught and his pistol seized. I had a talk with the Additional SP, who told me police would take technical and forensic evidences from our vehicles. I told him that our main demand is that police should trace the mastermind behind these two assailants, because they had been following us, from either Delhi or Meerut, I do not know, but they knew that our convoy would stop at this toll gate”, the AIMIM chief said.

“The attackers were hardly ten steps away from us and by the grace of Allah, we were saved, otherwise their intent was lethal. …It was the presence of mind of Yameen and myself, that we decided to hit Haji Saheb’s vehicle from behind, damaging his bumper, we moved forward, noticed that our tyre was punctured, but we decided to leave the spot immediately. This is not the act of two persons, this is the result of the poison of hate that is being mixed in our nation’s body politic, and we hope the Prime Minister and UP administration should get to the bottom of this matter”, Owaisi said.

Already, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath has sought details about the attack from police. UP IG police, SSP and other senior officers have visited the spot. The state administration much find out who were the masterminds behind this attack? What was the ulterior motive behind this attack? Who are the persons who motivated these two assailants to launch this attack ? Experts say, this attack could not have happened without proper planning. The attackers knew in which car Owaisi was travelling, and they fired directly at his car.

In my interview, Owaisi said, he had been consistently refusing to take personal security since 1994, and will continue to decline any offer of police security for himself. “I consider this odd to find myself surrounded by policemen when I meet people”, he said. I also asked Owaisi, whether he had fear in his mind when he saw the attacker firing at his car, he replied: “I promptly started reading Kalmaa (holy Quran verse)”.

The toll plaza video clearly shows that the attack was pre-planned and it was by God’s grace that Owaisi could save his life. The video also points towards a bigger conspiracy. Owaisi is right when he says that this is not an attack on the chief of a political party, it is an assault on our democracy and our Constitution. This deplorable incident must be taken seriously and the probe must be taken to a logical end.

I understand Owaisi’s anger and sadness. In his speeches, he is always hard hitting against his rivals, but this does not mean that his voice should be silenced by bullets. I have nothing but admiration for his courage, for speaking out clearly after the attempt on his life. Owaisi’s AIMIM has fielded nearly 100 candidates in the UP assembly polls, and in his non-stop campaign, he has been hitting out at BJP, SP, Congress and BSP. One must realize the disturbance that could have taken place had Owaisi been injured in the attack. This is nothing but a crude attempt to disturb peace in UP during the assembly elections.

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