The Lok Sabha was witness to a sharp exchange of words between Union Home minister Amit Shah and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi during the debate on the NIA Amendment Bill. This followed a statement during BJP MP Satyapal Singh’s speech where he made allegations against the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh at the time of the Mecca Masjid blast in May 2007, without naming him.
The late YS Rajasekhara Reddy was CM at the time of the blast. Singh, who has served as Commissioner of Mumbai Police, claimed the CM had called up the then Hyderabad police commissioner when the latter had arrested a few youth belonging to the minority community. According to Singh’s version, the CM had said : “Please don’t do this otherwise you will lose your job.”
When Owaisi stood up to object to the veracity of the comment, Amit Shah intervened to tell him “Sunne ki bhi aadat daliye Owaisi saab, yeh aisa nahi chalega”. (Get used to listening, Mr Owaisi, this won’t work)
T S Sudhir of Filter Kaapi Live spoke to Asaduddin Owaisi to revisit the period post the Mecca Masjid blast and the facts of the case.
Sudhir : The arrest of the Muslim youth was a very contentious issue post the Mecca Masjid blast. Were you surprised by what Satyapal Singh said during his speech on the floor of the House?
Owaisi : What load of lies he was saying. It was during YS Rajasekhara Reddy’s tenure that close to one hundred Muslim youth were arrested and tortured, given electrical shocks on their private parts while in police custody. He was wrong, he was lying. I had to tell him that he cannot go by hearsay and authenticate what he is claiming. Because if proven wrong, a privilege motion can then be moved against him.
Sudhir : About one hundred Muslim youth were arrested and none of them were accused directly of a role in the Mecca Masjid blast case. They were accused of conspiracy against the state.
Owaisi : Yes. And contrary to what the MP claimed, it was the YSR government that was responsible for picking up all these boys. Where is the question of YSR asking the police commissioner not to arrest the Muslim youth?
Subsequently, the Ravichander committee met each one of them inside prison and presented its report which spoke of the torture they had been subjected to. The National Minorities commission came to Hyderabad.
Sudhir : Subsequently the Muslim youth were all let off because the investigating teams could not find anything that linked them to the conspiracy or the blast.
Owaisi : The lives of several youth were devastated as a result of the episode. The police commissioner then was Balwinder Singh who later went to the CBI. It was only after YSR passed away and Kiran Kumar Reddy took over as CM that on the demand of Akbaruddin Owaisi, monetary compensation was paid to the youth. A certificate of good conduct was given by the then Government of Andhra Pradesh though some boys refused to accept both. In fact, some of the boys still blame me for not doing enough.
So to say YSR as CM asked the commissioner to stop is wrong. The YSR government should in fact, take the blame for the wrong arrests.
Sudhir : Did the intervention by the Home minister surprise you?
Owaisi : He pointed his index finger at me while saying that. You cannot point a finger, it is unparliamentary behaviour. I am not afraid. You are not God.