Rajat Sharma

The political game behind Raja Singh’s offensive remarks against Islam

akb full_frame_74900Hyderabad Police carried out a flag march in some localities of the city on Wednesday, as fresh protests erupted again on Tuesday evening in Charminar locality of Old Hyderabad. Nearly 1,000 protesters marched in Old City areas demanding ‘beheading’ of BJP MLA T. Raja Singh for his derogatory comments made against Prophet Mohammed.

The offensive and abusive video was posted by the BJP MLA on YouTube, and this triggered protests in several parts of the city. Raja Singh was arrested by police, but by Tuesday evening he was released on bail by the Additional Chief Metropolitan magistrate on technical grounds. His lawyer told the court that the Hyderabad Police did not follow Supreme Court guidelines under which notice is served before arrest to the accused under Section 41A of Criminal Procedure Code.

The BJP high command took a serious view of the incident and suspended Raja Singh. He was issued a show cause notice signed by BJP disciplinary committee member Om Pathak and was given ten days to explain why he should not be expelled from the party. The notice issued by Om Pathak to T. Raja Singh said: “You hve expressed views contrary to the party’s position on various matters, which is in clear violation of the BJP constitution. I have been directed to convey to you that pending further inquiry, you are suspended from the party and from your responsibilities/assignments, if any, with immediate effect.”

T. Raja Singh was however unrepentant. He said, “I have done nothing wrong and I will always remain a loyal soldier of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah…More than the party, protecting dharma is important for me”. He threatened to release “part two” of the video clip that possibly contains more such derogatory remarks against Islam and its Prophet.

The manner in which the BJP MLA posted the insulting video is a clear attempt to poison the atmosphere in the country, by misusing social media. His action was deliberate. He used abuses and vile words against Prophet Mohammed, while opposing the remarks made by comedian Munawwar Farooqui against Hindu gods and goddesses.

Soon after his 10 minute 27 second video appeared on social media, thousands of Muslims came out on the streets of Hyderabad on Monday night, chanting slogans “Sar Tan Se Juda” (beheading for blasphemy). On Tuesday morning, Muslim clerics and politicians like AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi and local Congress leaders reacted sharply against the BJP MLA. Raja Singh was sleeping in his home, even as thousands of people were baying for his blood on the streets of Hyderabad. He was immediately arrested by Hyderabad Police, but by evening, he was released on bail by a local court.

The question is: When there was already tension over Nupur Sharma’s offensive remarks against the Prophet, why did the BJP MLA post this video? Why did his commit this shameful act? Was it a political move? His hate video led to violent protests in Chanchalguda, Dabeerpura, Bhawani Nagar, Rdin Bazar and Meer Chowk localities of Hyderabad. These were Muslim-dominated localities where Owaisi’s AIMIM has a big influence.

By 2.30 am on early Tuesday, AIMIM MLA Ahmed bin Abdullah Balala filed complaint in Dabeerpura police station, and a big mob chanted slogans outside. T. Raja Singh is the BJP MLA from Goshamahal. He has won from this assembly constituency twice. He is the chief whip of BJP in Telangana assembly and a known Hindutva face in the state. Many of his remarks in the past have been controversial.

AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi blamed the BJP for such hate speeches and for “spoiling” the atmosphere in Hyderabad. Owaisi alleged that BJP was “provoking” Muslims. He said, it appears as if insulting Muslims has become the “official policy” of BJP. Owaisi demanded that PM Narendra Modi must speak on the issue and condemn the hate video. The AIMIM chief alleged that BJP was planning to incite communal riots in order to spread its base in Telangana. Asked why Muslims were chanting “Sar tan Se Juda’ (beheading) slogans, Owaisi was on the defensive. He said, “I condemn such slogans. Nobody has the right to take law in his own hands.”

Owaisi is a leading barrister and an experienced politician. He knows what to speak and where and when. Meanwhile, local Congress leader Rashid Khan too reached a police station and demanded action against the BJP MLA. One of the leading clerics of Hyderabad Maulana Zafar Pasha said, Raja Singh’s offensive remarks “will not be tolerated”.

Raja Singh is an elected people’s representative. His opposition to comedian Munawar Faruqui may be justified, but the manner in which he hurled abuses and insults both against Faruqui, Islam and its Prophet, can never be justified. He has committed a serious mistake and he must be punished for this. But, one should also remember how the stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui insulted Hindu gods and goddesses, and Hindu outfits had to stage protests. His shows were cancelled in Karnataka, Maharashtra and several other states.

In Telangana, the TRS government allowed Faruqui to do a show in Hyderabad. Neither the TRS, nor the AIMIM are speaking about what Faruqui said about Hindu gods and goddesses. On Tuesday, India TV correspondent T. Raghavan asked Owaisi to say at least something about Faruqui. Owaisi replied, “What should I speak about a comedian? Ask the government which gave him security and allowed him to do a show here. If Raja Singh was angry with Faruqui, he could have complained to the police, or he could have gone to court. Why did he insult the Prophet and threatened Muslims?”

The strangest part is that TRS leaders have kept a big silence over Raja Singh’s offensive video. In Mumbai, MNS chief Raj Thackeray said, “Nobody reacts when Asaduddin Owaisi and his brother Akbaruddin Owaisi speak against Hindu gods and goddesses, but when Nupur Sharma said something, there was a nationwide furore. Zakir Naik is a Muslim preacher, who absconded from India, he is the founder of Islamic Research Foundation. He said the same thing that Nupur Sharma said about the Prophet. Nobody said anything about Zakir Naik, Why?”

Raj Thackeray may be having his own political axe to grind. What Owaisi said about Raja Singh’s use of abusive language is justified. Nobody can support such abuses and filthy remarks. Raja Singh must be punished. He has not committed such acts for the first time. He had done it in the past too. He considers this his USP. He probably thinks such remarks would help him to bolster his presence in Hyderabad, dominated by Owaisi.

There is a political angle behind what Raja Singh did, and Chief Minister KCR is part of this political gambit. Comedian Munawar Faruqui has been facing cases for insulting Hindu gods and goddesses. He was sent to jail too, and yet, KCR’s government gave him permission to do a show in Hyderabad. This was done clearly to send a message to Muslims that TRS and KCR do not work under pressure from Hindu outfits.

Faruqui was permitted to do his show in Hyderabad because of the ruling party’s eye on Muslim vote. The administration kept Raja Singh under house arrest, and he and his supporters could not prevent Faruqui. In order to keep his support base intact, Raja Singh decided to record the offensive hate video and posted it on social media. He spewed poison against Islam and its Prophet. Owaisi’s party leaders noted that KCR and Raja Singh were now dominating Hyderabad politics, and this could be a loss to AIMIM. In order to consolidate his base, Owaisi, his brother and his supporters are now active for the last two days. AIMIM supporters have hit the streets, chanting ‘Sar Tan Se Juda’ slogans.

All in all, it’s a game of politics. But in their quest for garnering votes, they have poisoned the atmosphere in the country. The need of the hour is that people like T. Raja Singh must be prevented from spewing venom, and comedians like Munawar Faruqui must be taught a lesson for insulting Hindu gods and goddesses. Already Hindu saints and top Muslim clerics have denounced this trend. They have appealed to both communities to respect each other’s religions and feelings.

The moot point is that if Raja Singh had to take any step against Faruqui, he could have gone to the police and file a complaint. People, whose feelings were hurt because of abusive remarks by Raja Singh, should have gone to the police. Neither Raja Singh has the right to insult the Prophet, nor anybody has the right to chant the slogan “Sar Tan Se Juda”. But such elements are now going to social media instead of approaching the police.

Social media is being blatantly misused to spread the poison of hate. More often than not, it has been noticed that people create hate videos and post them on social media, since there are no curbs. Whatever happened in Hyderabad for the last two days is the result of peddling hate through social media. Assembly elections are due in Telangana by December next year and political parties are taking up positions.

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