It was in 2012 that Section 144 was last imposed in Hyderabad due to communal tensions.
After about 10 years of relative calm, Hyderabad was once again tense with communal bitterness. Massive protests and violence erupted in Hyderabad’s Old City on Tuesday, August 23, over a video posted online by now-suspended BJP MLA Raja Singh, in which he is seen making derogatory comments against Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. Singh was arrested by the city police for his remarks in the video and simultaneously suspended from the BJP, the same day he was granted bail by a local court. Soon after his release, protests erupted in various parts of the city as they took to the streets late at night and Raja Singh was re-arrested on Thursday.
Meanwhile, footage showed police using heavy lathi charges on scores of young men, although some of their family members denied taking part in the protests. There have been several allegations of police personnel using excessive force, and in some cases entering people’s homes, using violence to arrest suspected protesters.
“After 2012, this is the first time we are experiencing this level of communal tension in Hyderabad,” activist SQ Masood told TNM. “The only curfews imposed in the city after the formation of Telangana state were due to the rise of COVID-19 cases in Hyderabad.”
IPC Section 144 in Hyderabad
According to the Crime Records Bureau, the last time Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (which prohibits gathering of four or more people in an area) was imposed in Hyderabad was for 10 days in 2012, when trouble broke out. some local residents reportedly found the meat near a religious place in Kurmaguda. Two years before that, in 2010, riots broke out in the city during the Sri Rama Navami and Milad-un-nabir festivals in Moosabowli.
Then there was Raja Singh, and last week the imposition of an official lockdown in the city. “The BJP MLA was very close to what the Srikrishna Commission – formed to look into the demand for separate statehood for Telangana – envisioned about the situation,” says Raja Singh, a journalist of more than a decade. and wants to remain anonymous. In a note sent to the Union Home Ministry on 30 December 2010 along with the main report, the Commission headed by former Chief Justice BN Srikrishna stated that there is a high possibility that the decision to form a new state would be affected. cause the birth of extremists and new communal tensions. “Raja Singh is such an extremist,” added the reporter.
“There is unrest in the state because of the BJP. Resorting to communal violence is their tactic to win the upcoming Assembly elections,” says Anjaneya Goud, a former member of the state’s Backward Classes Committee and a columnist for Namasthe Telangana, a Telugu daily. The BJP’s suspension of Raja Singh is just to show, she says. “He’ll be back at the party soon.”
TRS spokesperson Krishank echoes Goud’s view on Raja Singh’s suspension. Criticizing the BJP for its double standards, even as Singh was suspended from the party, he says his party members were in the Supreme Court appealing against his bail. “TRS has always aimed at communal harmony in the city. Since the formation of Telangana state, there has not been a single cut-off related to communal riots in the city, until this MLA came into the picture,” he says.
In fact, except for the communal violence that took place in Bhainsa in the last two years, it has not been implemented along these lines in Telangana state, says Goud. A fight between two people over a bike accident led to violence between two communities in Bhainsa in March last year, the violence soon spread to the entire village resulting in the burning of a couple of houses, shops and vehicles. Police later said that the violence was started by Hindu Vahini members. The town also had similar communal clashes the previous year.
BJP points fingers at AIMIM, TRS
BJP state secretary Prakash Reddy, meanwhile, blamed the violence on allowing stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui to perform a show in Hyderabad. “Why did TRS and MIM goons allow Faruqui’s performance? That was the reason for the whole mess, not Raja Singh,” Prakash told TNM.
Munawar organized a comedy show in Hyderabad on August 20 after repeated attempts by right-wing outfits to disrupt the show. Raja Singh was among the MPs who called for the cancellation of the show, claiming that Faruqui had insulted Hindu deities during his performances. Singh was placed under house arrest and several BJYM leaders were detained at various police stations long before the show. A day after the screening, Raja Singh posted a video of the debate on his YouTube channel, making derogatory comments against the Prophet Muhammad.
“As far as BJP is concerned, KCR and AIMIM are responsible for these tensions. It was their fault that they allowed this comedy show to happen. That was the seed, all the rest were just products of it,” he says, adding that AIMIM’s Raja Singh that the call for beheading was extreme and unacceptable. “They started the fire,” he says.
Reddy also confirmed that Singh has been suspended from the BJP for 10 days, and the party high command will now take a decision on his reinstatement based on the response to Singh’s show-cause notice.