Majlis-e-lttehad Muluslimeen legislator Akbaruddin Owaisi was critically injured in firing by a group of assailants in Hyderabad on Saturday.
The assailants are believed to be followers of a local gangster Mohammed Pehlwan. They reportedly opened fire at Owaisi's vehicle. They also allegedly attacked him with sharp weapons when he was on his way to Barkas area of the city to attend some programmes in his constituency Chandrayangutta.
At least three others, including another MIM legislator Ahmad Bilala, were also injured in the incident.
Akbaruddin Owaisi was rushed to Owaisi Hospital where a team of doctors is treating him.
Hospital sources said that he was hit in the abdomen and has also suffered injuries on his right hand.
"There was a lot of blood loss by the time he was brought here," sources said.
As the news of his attack spread like wildfire, hundreds of people rushed to the hospital. Police sources said that four persons were taken into custody in connection with the attack.
Eyewitnesses said that one of the assailants was beaten to death on the spot of the attack by Akbaruddin's supporters.
According to police sources, Mohammed Pehlwan was angry at Akbaruddin as the letter was freeing up land plots held by him in the old city.
The incident is being seen as a fall-out of the growing political rivalry between MIM and some local groups. Mohammed Pehlwan has reportedly sided with anti-MIM elements after quitting the party.
Akbaruddin, 35, was the leader of the seven-member MIM legislators' group in the state assembly.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy and the state home minister P Sabita Indra Reddy were among the important political leaders who visited Owaisi Hospital to see the critically injured leader.
Several other ministers including K Jana Reddy, Sunitha Lakshma Reddy, MPs Anjan Kumar Yadav and V Hanumantha Rao also went to the hospital and spoke to the doctors about the condition of MIM floor leader.
Akbar's elder brother and member of Lok Sabha from Hyderabad Asaduddin Owaisi also reached Hyderabad from Delhi and was with Akbar in the hospital.
Doctors were planning to shift Akbar from Owaisi Hospital to the Care Hospital in Banjara Hills area of Hyderabad as the milling crowds of thousands of people in and around the old city hospital was making it difficult for the doctors to discharge their duty.
MIM has called for a strike in the city on Sunday.
Later, the home minister told the media that Akbar's condition was stable and he was recovering after the surgery during which three bullets were removed from his body.
"Still one bullet is there and doctors have said that there was no threat to his life from this bullet," she said.
Strongly condemning the attack on the legislator, she said that a special team was constituted to investigate the case. "Akbaruddin was actively campaigning against the encroachment of Waqf and other government lands and some people had developed a grudge against him," she said.
Director General of Police K Aravinda Rao also visited the hospital and the scene of the offence and said that the situation was under control.
"We have mobilised sufficient forces to maintain law and order," he said.
He confirmed that one of the assailants was killed in the retaliatory firing by the security guard of another MLA Ahmad Balala. Two others were injured and they were now under police custody.
Meanwhile, Mohammed Pehlwan, the prime suspect in the case confirmed that his men had attacked the MIM leader. "He was threatening to snatch our land which we legally own", he alleged.
He said that while his nephew Abrahim Yafai had died in the incident, another was seriously injured. He held the MLA responsible for the incident.
He spoke to some local TV channels even as the police was looking for him.
Several other political leaders have also condemned the attack on the MLA. They include the leader of opposition in the state assembly and Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu, CPI state secretary K Narayana, Lok Satta president Jayprakash Narayan and government chief whip Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka.
Situation in the old city was tense as all the shops and business establishments were shut and a curfew like situation was prevailing.
There were also incidents of MIM supporters attacking the hotels and commercial establishments of the supporters of rival Majlis Bachao Tehreek.
Image: File photo of Akbaruddin Owaisi during a visit to Hyderabad's old city area