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Lakhs bid tearful adieu to Owaisi

Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad | September 30, 2008

Senior Muslim leader, veteran Parliamentarian and Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen president Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi was bid a tearful adieu by lakhs of his supporters on Tuesday when he was laid to rest at the Dargah Agha Dawood in Hyderabad.

Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy led his cabinet colleagues in paying respects to the 76-year old Owaisi, who passed away on Monday after prolonged illness.

Reddy, cut short his visit to Delhi [Images] and returned to Hyderabad on Tuesday to attend the funeral, described Owaisi's death as a big loss to the state. "He was a very experienced politician and a man of masses who always fought for the welfare of the people," Reddy said.

Politicians cutting across the party lines converged at the Darussalam, the headquarters of the MIM to bid farewell to the leader who had dominated the politics of Hyderabad for almost fifty years.

All India Congress Committee general secretary, Veerappa Moily laid the wreath on behalf of United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi [Images].  Moily conveyed his condolences to Asaduddin Owaisi, the MIM's new president and member of Parliament from Hyderabad.

Mufti Khaleel Ahmad, the head of Jamia Nizamia led the Namaz-e-Janaza, attended by over one lakh mourners. Owaisi was laid to rest with full state honors.

Owaisi's body was brought from his residence to the MIM headquarters in a massive procession  with thousands of supporters raising slogans. Owaisi's sons Asaduddin Owaisi, MP, Akbaruddin Owaisi, MLA and Burhanuddin were among the pall bearers.

Such was the surge of the people to have the last glimpse of Salar as Owaisi was popularly known that the police had a very tough time controlling the crowd.
 
The United State Consul General in Hyderabad Cornelis Keur and the Iranian Consul General were among the dignitaries who attended the funeral.

Earlier in the day the state director general of police SSP Yadav and Hyderabad police commissioner B Prasad Rao paid their respects.

Speaker K R Suresh Reddy, state Congress president D Srinivas, state home minister K Jana Reddy, secretaries of The Communist Party of India-Marxist and CPI BV Raghavulu and K Narayana, Nava Telangana Praja Party president T Devender Goud, senior leaders of Telugu Desam and Telangana Rashtra Samiti were among those who attended the funeral.

Film star-turned-politician and Praja Rajyam party president Chiranjeevi [Images] visited Owaisi's residence on Tuesday morning and paid his respects.

"Mr. Owaisi was a powerful and a strong leader who strived to protect the culture and identity of Hyderabad and to solve the problems of Muslim minority. It is very difficult to find another leaders like him", Chiranjeevi said. However the leaders of the state BJP were conspicuous by their absence.

Delegations of various Muslim organizations including Jamat-e-Islami, Jamiatul Ulema, Jamiatul Mashaiq also attended the funeral. The state government had declared a holiday to the educational institutions and the government offices today as a mark of respect to Owaisi.

Salahuddin Owaisi's political career spanning over half a century was extraordinary in the sense that he had started his career as a member of Hyderabad Municipal Corporation in 1958 and went on to become the member of Parliament.

He was elected to Lok Sabha from Hyderabad for five straight terms. He also served as MLA for 23 years representing different constituencies of the city.

In a reflection of the respect he commanded across the political divide, Owaisi earned kudos from the young Bharatiya Janata Party legislator G Kishan Reddy as well as a leftist poet Ghaddar.

"Despite the ideological differences I can tell you that  Owaisi was a great political leader," Kishan Reddy said, paying his tributes to Owaisi. He recalled that when he was elected to the state assembly in 2004, Mr. Owaisi had call him over phone to congratulate. "I was very happy that a veteran leader like Salahuddin Owaisi remembered a young MLA like me".

Owaisi was paid rich tributes even from the left. The popular balladeer Ghaddar described Owaisi as a "great leader of Muslim community. One call by him was enough to establish peace in the city," said Ghaddar.


Image: The funeral procession and Namaz-e-Janaza of Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi in Hyderabad on Tuesday.

Photograph : Snaps India


 

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