MIM leader Akbar Owaisi attacked, Hyderabad tense

Indo Asian News Service

Hyderabad, April 30 (IANS) Andhra Pradesh legislator and Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) leader Akbaruddin Owaisi was injured when assailants stabbed and opened fire at him here Saturday, sparking tensions in parts of the city. One attacker was killed and two others critically injured when security guards returned fire.

Akbaruddin's condition was reported to be stable at a hospital. Another MIM legislator, Ahmed Balala, suffered minor injuries in the clash.

A profusely bleeding Owaisi, who is the MIM floor leader in the state assembly, was rushed to the Owaisi Hospital in Santosh Nagar, where he was operated upon by doctors to remove the bullets.

State Home Minister P. Sabita Indra Reddy quoted doctors at the hospital as saying that Owaisi's condition was stable.

He was shifted to another private hospital in Banjara Hills later.

The attack took place around 11.30 a.m. when Owaisi was visiting his Chandrayangutta assembly constituency in the old city area of Hyderabad.

According to witnesses, four or five people attacked Owaisi with knives when he was getting into his vehicle after attending a meeting in Barkas neighbourhood.

As an injured Owaisi tried to take to the steering wheel, attackers opened fire at him.

His party colleague Balala rushed to Owaisi's rescue. But Balala and the driver were also attacked.

Director General of Police K. Aravinda Rao said gunmen of both the legislators opened fire at the attackers, killing one of them.

Two other persons are in serious condition, the police chief said.

Blood stains, bullets, knives, mobile phones, footwear, sunglasses were seen strewn around at the scene. Owaisi's vehicle also bore bullet marks and blood stains.

The home minister said the dispute between Akbaruddin Owaisi and Mohammed Pehlwan led to the incident.

The legislator had foiled the latter's attempt to encroach upon a piece of land and handed it over to authorities for building houses for poor under a government scheme, the minister said.

Pehlwan was arrested by police late in the evening when he went to a private hospital to see the body of his relative and the two others injured.

Earlier, he told reporters that he was not involved in the attack and claimed that it was the legislator who attacked his family members.

As tension gripped the old city, shopkeepers downed the shutters and buses went off the roads.

Police chief Rao said adequate forces have been deployed to maintain law and order.

'The situation is under control and we are not expecting any serious trouble,' he said.

MIM president and Akbaruddin's elder brother Asaduddin Owaisi, who rushed to Hyderabad from Delhi, alleged that there was a deep rooted conspiracy behind the attack.

'Unable to fight us politically, some elements are resorting to such attacks,' the MP said demanding a thorough probe.

He appealed to people to remain calm and maintain peace. He also urged the traders to reopen their shops and resume business.

Pehlwan had supported Majlis Bachao Tehreek (MBT) against Owaisi during the 2009 elections and had even clashed with the Owaisi's supporters on a few occasions.

MBT leader Amjadullah Khan Khalid alleged that Owaisi had been harassing the family of Pehlwan, whom he termed as a businessman.

Angry MIM activists attacked a hall and two hotels reportedly belonging to Pehlwan's family.

Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, who reviewed the security situation with his cabinet colleagues, rushed to the Owaisi Hospital.

The 39-year-old Akbaruddin Owaisi is the leader of MIM in the state assembly. The party has seven legislators in the 294-member house.

The leader is the managing director of the Owaisi Hospital and also heads a group of institutions, including a medical and an engineering college.

He became MIM floor leader in the state assembly in 2004, replacing his elder brother Asaduddin Owaisi, who moved to the Lok Sabha in 2004 after their father Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi decided not to contest elections due to ill health.

Salahuddin Owaisi, who dominated the politics in Hyderabad for four decades, was elected to parliament for six consecutive terms (1984-2004), died in 2008 at the age of 77.

It was Salahuddin's father Moulana Abdul Wahid Owaisi who revived the MIM in 1958 with a new party constitution.

The party was earlier banned as it fought to keep erstwhile Hyderabad as an independent state.