A leading English TV channel in India, Times Now, announced that it will not broadcast Akbaruddin Owaisi’s speech as it was extremely derogatory and inflammatory. This announcement came 9 days after the speech and lakhs of people had already watched it on Youtube. Even though Times Now was 9 days late in even bringing up this serious issue, the announcement itself should tell Indian politicians how troubling the speech was.
The worst part is that this was one of the dozens of not-so-nice speeches Akbaruddin Owaisi gave publicly during 2012 and the entire secular establishment of India, shamefully, kept quiet. Already a court has asked police to file an FIR against Owaisi and another court is considering summoning him. So a TV channel saying they would not broadcast Owaisi’s speech is too little too late. Hundreds of thousands of Indians have either heard it directly on the street or via local TV channels or on the Internet. These were not speeches given in private, but in the full view of the law enforcement agencies and Government, over a number of months.
Akbaruddin Owaisi is the son of Salahuddin Owaisi, who was instrumental in developing the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen or MIM for short. This is a political party centered in Hyderabad. The party was banned between 1948 and 1957 after its opposition to the integration of Hyderabad with India. But later Salahuddin Owaisi strengthened it and made it a formidable force among the Muslim majority constituencies in Hyderabad. 42 year old Akbaruddin is an MLA in AP Assembly representing Chandrayan Gutta. His elder brother Asaduddin Owaisi is a barrister and and MP in India’s Parliament.
MIM as a party has lots of good support in Hyderabad’s old city area. Salahuddin Owaisi’s MIM Charity took care of the poor people quite well. In fact, former PM Indira Gandhi was close to the Owaisi family and she is credited with having given the family back the Darus Salam — their headquarters. Later, the family became close to Sonia Gandhi too.
The trend of keeping populism alive among old city Hyderabadis is being carried on now by the Owaisi brothers. There is quite a bit of support from the charity to uplift Urdu medium schools, distribute supplies to the most needy, and other charitable operations. This has generated goodwill among its traditional voters.
The controversies surrounding Akbaruddin Owaisi have been clouding a lot of goodwill generated via the party’s charity and development work. He has been a very controversial politician. In May 2011, things went so far as to end up with a murder attempt on him. He was attacked with a knife and gun allegedly by Mohammed Phelwan, a former party member.
After prolonged treatment, Owaisi survived and party members were very happy about it.
But the central theme making news this week is not about the MIM charity, or the party’s history or even the follow-up of its break in alliance with Congress. It is the speeches of the Owaisi brothers. The elder brother Asaduddin Owaisi, who is an MP, created a furore during August 2012 by talking in the parliament of a ‘Third wave of radicalisation among the Muslim youth’.
The speech was the subject of a lot of discussion and many thought it was outrageous to speak like that in the Parliament of India.
But it is the younger brother Akbaruddin Owaisi who is at the centrestage now, thanks to his highly controversial speeches. And this is not something that started with the latest speech in December. There have been a series of speeches by this MLA.
Let’s take a look at eleven selected speeches of Owaisi, with specific focus on the parts that should not have been in the public speeches of a constitutionally oath-bound Assembly member. Note that these videos may be removed by the hosting site at any point, so if you are very keen on keeping a copy, download them today.
“Woh jo baithi hain na” (gestures)
“Yeh Bhagya Lakshmi kaun sa naya naam? Aaj tak nahin suni”
“Aise naare lagao ki wo Bhagya bhi hil jai, wo Lakshmi bhi gir jaye”
Then makes everyone shout “Naare-e-takbeer Allahu Akbar”.
Clearly, this speech makes derogatory remarks with hand gestures about Goddess Bhagya Lakshmi, whom Hindus have been worshiping for centuries across the nation, if not for millenia.
(Between 2nd and 3rd minutes)
“Are waha pe, do sau chauriyanno hain.. are yaad rakho musalmaano, musalmaano ke beech mein, musalmano ke mohalle mein baat karna aasan hain.. lekin Kufrastan mein, wo do sau chauriyanno kaafiron ke beech mein baat karna.. wo bada himmat ka kaam hota hain, bahut jigar ka kaam hota hain.”
He was referring to MLAs in Andhra Pradesh Assembly using a derogatory ‘kafir’ term and area as ‘Kufrastan’ in an even more derogatory manner.
And here he refers to his Assembly speech after news of former PM PV Narasimha Rao’s death.
“Narasimha Rao, Andhra ka pehla wazeer e azam tha.. Telugu bidda, telugu tidda, kya kya bhi bol rahe the.”
Telugu people fondly refer to PVN as ‘Telugu bidda’ (son of Telugu land). Insulting remarks like ‘Telugu bidda, tidda’ were greeted by the crowd with cheers.
Then he used terms like katil, darinda, beimaan, dhokebaaz, chor etc. for an ex Prime Minister who had just passed away. No one uses words like thief, murderer, cheat etc. even for the head of an enemy state. This was happening when the funeral had just happened and the Assembly was offering condolences. Such was the respect for the only PM of India from the State where the Owaisis were born.
The worst was yet to come: “Accha hua ye mar gaya. Agar zinda hota to hazrat tho hum apne haaton se usko maar daalte”. Essentially, what Akbar Owaisi said was that if the former PM had not died, he would have murdered him with his own hands! And this was a statement in the Assembly of Andhra Pradesh!
(Between 1:10 and 1:17 minutes)
“Hamere to sirf do eida hain. Inke to har das din ko ek eid hain”
Here he made fun of Hindu festivals by saying they have so many and ‘we’ have only 2.
He keeps talking about “gair kanooni mandir”
The reality is that it is an Endowments Department-recognised temple for decades. Governments don’t put illegal temples on their list to take donations to temple as tax money.
“Yeh khaki wardi ke police wale, ye naamardon ki fauj leke, humko darana chahte hain naa,
hum aaj bhi challenge karo na.. hum Kiran Kumar Reddy se kahenge.. Police ko hatalo, phir dekhenge kisme kitni himmat hain….”
He is referring, in a very derogatory way, to the police force of Andhra Pradesh as an ‘army of impotent people’. Then he incites his audience, asking the CM to remove police and see who has more ‘courage’.
“Unme himmat nahin hain.. Musalmaano se muqable karne ki.”
Again he says, ‘they’ do not have ‘courage’ to fight Muslims. Whether he is referring to Hindus or the police force is not clear.
(First 3 minutes )
“Paisath baras ki is Hindustan ki azadi ki taariq mein, pachas hazaar se zaida fisadat is mulk mein hue.. sabse zaida agar kisi ki gale kate, to woh Musalmaan ka tha…”
Talking about 50,000 riots in India over the 65 years since the country became independent, he says the majority of throats cut belonged to Muslims. The tone and delivery of his speech, whether factual or not, is to create a sense of victimhood by taking one-sided numbers.
(Between 14 and 17th minutes)
“Ab mera sawal ye hai, ki aakhir Ram ki maa kahan kahan gayi thi, aur kahan jani Ram ko?”
Owaisi asks, “My question now is: Where all did Ram’s mother go wandering and where did she give birth to him? (high-pitched, derogatory, and received with loud cheers demeaning Lord Sri Rama’s mother and Rama’s birth)
(After 2nd minute )
Owaisi keeps referring to “Tareeq e sar zameen e Dakkan” or history of Deccan, but limits it only to 400 years. Similar to how Pakistanis limit their history to only after the Arab invasion of India. Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra have thousands of years of glorious history in Deccan, which is not touched upon.
“After police section… Hamare jaagere lut chuki thi… laakhon ke taidat mein hamare gale kaate gaye the”
He talks about the post-independence period when ‘lakhs’ of Muslims were killed. No one knows how factual his one-sided ‘history’ is, but the intention to create a sense of victimhood is only too evident.
“Majboor ho jata hain Musalman, inteqaam ke aag mein jalta hua, inteqaam aur badla lene kiye.. kisne kiya? Tumne itna loota humko..”
As you can see, even before the riots that happened in Gujarat in 2002, he used language suggesting that a Muslim is ‘forced’ to take ‘revenge’ using events from the 1990s. The trend is always to create victimhood, no matter which decade it is.
(First 3 minutes)
“Hum police se na ghabarate hain, na hukumat se.”
We fear neither the police nor the Government. This is coming from an elected representative, right in the Assembly!
“Hamara jiddu jehat us waqt tak jaari rahegi, jab tak babri masjid nahi banegi, aur jab tak us gair kanooni Char Minar pe jo dhappa hain usko nahin hata denge”
He talks in a derogatory way about the Bhagya Lakshmi temple in Hyderabad and vows to remove it.
(After 16th minute)
“Har action ka reaction hain” (After 2nd minute)
Talks of action and reaction, softly justifying Mumbai terror attacks.
“Kya naam us bachhe ka” (referring to Pakistani terrorist Kasab as a ‘kid’) – Then he asks for an elected CM Modi to be hanged like terrorist Kasab!
“Ayodhya ki wo tuti phuti Ram mandir bachegi” (After 11th minute)
“Ajanta Ellora ke nangi nangi murtiya bachegi”
Talking derogatorily about non-Muslim heritage of India like Ayodhya, Ajanta and Ellora.
“Tum marte ho to jal ke fiza ho kar awara ke tarah chale jaate ho”
Making a mockery of Hindu cremation and implying that Muslim burial is a better way.
“Are Hindustan hum pacches hain na. tum sau karod hai naa.. theek hain.. tum to hamare se itne zyada hain. Pandrah minute ke liye police to hataado, bata denge kis mein himmat kitna hain (?)” (After the 13th minute)
Direct incitement to violence or ‘show of strength’ by Muslims. “Hey India, you are 100 crore and we (Muslims) are 25 crore. Just remove police for 15 minutes and we will show our ‘courage’.
“Ek hazaar kya.. ek laakh kya.. ek karod naamard bhi milkar koshish karle to bhi, ek to paida nahin kar sakte. Aur ye log humse muqabla nahin ka sakte. Ye naamardon ki fauj aa jaati hain.”
Again a very insulting tone about non-Muslims of India. Calling them impotent people who can’t ‘fight’ Muslims. Maybe referring to Police again as the ‘army of impotent’ like an earlier speech.
As you can see, there is a long list of speeches where Owaisi’s tone is derogatory about Hindus. He insults practices of Hinduism, makes a mockery of Indian police, creates a sense of victimhood among Muslims by narrating a one-sided gory ‘history’ and inciting them to show their ‘courage’. Here is an image of the crowd in Nirmal last month, when Owaisi incited them with the ‘remove the police for 15 minutes” statement. Look at the flag-waving, the joy and the sloganeering. It is very unfortunate that such open radicalisation is happening in South India. The same kind of cheers, clapping and sloganeering can be found in most of the public speeches referred to in this article across the different cities and towns where Owaisi has spoken.
Unfortunately, none of the self-professed secular parties of India have come out to condemn any of these speeches over the past year. No action whatsoever has been taken. Even the ruling party of Andhra Pradesh has let him speak dozens of times in 2012 knowing that his speeches kept treading a dangerous path month after month. Is this because of the close connection the Owaisi family has enjoyed with India’s top power circles?
Only BJP has woken up off late and has given strong responses as below. It may be too late, but at least they are doing something.
BJP response in AP: http://ap.bjp.org/component/content/article/712
» This one has detailed charges, similar to the one produced in court by Lawyer Karuna Sagar in Hyderabad. The focus is on the last speech listed here.
BJP response in Delhi: www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIWo482trGA
» ”Andhra Pradesh ki ek rajnaitik party hain jiske sharir mein Osama bin Laden ki atma ghus gayi hain” (In the political arena of Andhra Pradesh, one party has imbibed the ghost of Osama bin Laden)
» “We request the Election Commission to immediately disqualify MIM. The Government should charge a case of sedition too.”
What’s your response?
Identity politics is not new to India. Many parties represent a language, region, caste or religion. That the Owaisi brothers’ aggressive identity politics gets them votes is understandable. But even as 21st century India is trying to forget its bloody past and move on to a brighter and unified future, do folks like Akbaruddin Owaisi, with their high-pitched vitriol against the majority Hindu community, India’s judicial system, India’s police force and India’s constitutionally-elected CMs/PMs, actually help anyone? Does it help the poor Muslim youth of the country that the Owaisi brothers claim to represent? It does not matter if you are pro-Owaisi or anti-Owaisi. The key question to ask after reading the excerpts here and watching the videos is — Do this kind of speeches actually help the youth of a progressive India?