The Congress government in Andhra Pradesh deliberately delayed the arrest of MIM legislature party leader Akbaruddin Owaisi for making hate speeches. Highly placed sources told this newspaper that the Kiran Kumar Reddy government wanted to gauge the public mood before arresting him. The government was waiting for public protests to grow stronger before acting against Owaisi. A small team of top police officials kept a tab on the national and state media ever since cases were booked against Owaisi.

The decision to slap tough sections like waging a war against the country and sound out Interpol to bring the legislator, who went to London a week ago, back to the country were taken at the meeting CM Kiran Kumar Reddy had with DGP V. Dinesh Reddy on 3 January. Later, Dinesh Reddy set up a compact cell in the city police to gauge “the public mood” and “media coverage of the issue”, a top official told this paper.

MIM president and MP Asaduddin Owaisi told the police that his brother would be returning home on the morning of 7 January. In fact, MIM leaders expected that police would arrest Akbaruddin at the airport itself, but no such thing happened.

“Then we thought that the police are not in haste and Owaisi sought four days to go to Nirmal (where he delivered the speech) and meanwhile also moved a quash petition in the High Court,” an MIM legislator told this paper. The police shifted Owaisi to Gandhi Hospital on 8 January and arrested him at 6.30 p.m. one and a half days after he arrived in the city.

“The delay in his arrest caused us more harm, as many people thought that Owaisi was evading arrest or law, which was not the case. This delay also led to an attack on Asaduddin’s residence in Delhi,” the MIM legislator said.

The MIM leader alleged there was a deeper conspiracy by the government in its move to invoke sedition charges against Owaisi and also filing of cases in as many as seven police stations. “The harsher sections and multiple cases are intended to deny bail to Owaisi to a maximum time. We can clearly see a conspiracy by the Congress,” Asaduddin Owaisi told The Sunday Guardian.

AP Home Minister P. Sabita denied the charge:”The demand for his arrest came from the public and the order to register the cases came from the courts. We should follow the law and the Congress has nothing to do with it.” Former minister Mohammad Ali Shabbir said that a majority of Muslims have condemned Owaisi’s remarks.

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