rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » News » 'Congress has abdicated its responsibility towards Muslims'

'Congress has abdicated its responsibility towards Muslims'

Last updated on: October 5, 2012 15:36 IST

'Gogoi wants to be more BJP than local BJP'

     Next

Next

MP from Hyderabad, Asaduddin Owaisi speaks to TS Sudhir about the Assam violence and Telangana

The last few months have seen the emergence of member of Parliament from Hyderabad Asaduddin Owaisi of the All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen as a pan-India Muslim leader. His visits to the relief camps in Assam and the commentary of the terrible conditions there in Parliament made people sit up and take note of this articulate barrister-turned-politician.

Owaisi speaks to TS Sudhir on the conditions in Assam, on what he thinks of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, the contentious issue of Telangana, his friend YS Jaganmohan Reddy and why he does not want to move out of Andhra Pradesh. 

You have spent time in the last one month or so visiting relief camps in Assam. It is obviously a terrible situation out there. Do you see it as an abject failure of the Tarun Gogoi government? 

Certainly. His own party leader gave a report to Tarun Gogoi, cautioning him about the simmering tensions in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District areas and that we have to be careful. He advised that the government should provide security to Muslims but it was ignored. The Gogoi government never bothered to seize illegal weapons that are with the Bodos and the presence of terror groups like the National Democratic Front of Bodoland continues unchecked.

The 2003 agreement is the cause of all problems because non-Bodos have no say in the discharge of administration even though their population in some areas is more than that of Bodos. The government should at least remove those areas from the agreement. There is a huge urgent need to revisit that agreement.

Even though the Government of India has given Rs 100 crore for rehabilitation, it is doing little to help the two lakh Muslims who are still in relief camps in terrible conditions as they have no confidence in the administration. 

Do you think Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi should take a large part of the blame?

It is a deliberate failure of Gogoi. He knows how to play this political game. He wants to be more Bharatiya Janata Party than the local BJP. The Muslims need to be rehabilitated because they are living in pathetic and abject conditions. But Hagrama Mohilary, the BTAD chief, says we will check their land deeds. Who is he? I doubt if these Muslims will ever be rehabilitated.

Please click on NEXT to read further


Image: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. (Inset) Asaduddin Owaisi


     Next

'Congress has abdicated its responsibility towards Muslims'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

After your first visit to Assam, you spoke in Parliament cautioning the country to be ready for a third wave of radicalisation among Muslim youth, for which you received a lot of flak on social media. You painted a very pessimistic picture.

Yes, it is my worst fear. I did not make that statement as rhetoric or in an emotional state of mind. I wanted the biggest panchayat in the country to take note. Let me tell you, I want to be proven wrong but I foresee the helplessness creeping in among the people there. If a young man's parents are killed, he loses his wife, his house is burnt, I tell you that man is a walking time bomb.

The youth in these relief camps are conveying a message of helplessness. When I told them to file FIRs, they said it will be of no use as nothing will happen. They were not even allowed to cut their standing crop. The police in Assam is hand in glove with the communal elements. I just got a text message from there that last night, the Central Reserve Police Froce came to the relief camp in Gosaingaon and asked the people to leave, telling them that in the event of an attack by the Bodos they will not protect them.

The system is not helping them and worse, you call them Bangladeshis. People there have shown me land records dating back to 1936, land from their grandfather's time.

So you are saying Muslims in Assam are being labelled as migrants from Bangladesh? 

I see it as a larger conspiracy. The Congress in Assam has completely abdicated its responsibility towards the Muslims. For all you know, it may even help it electorally. As long as the Asom Gana Parishad is not rising, Tarun Gogoi is happy.

Two months have passed and the only thing the people in the relief camps were given was Rs 500 in cash and clothes worth Rs 500 each before Id. But unless and until the CRPF and Army camps are set up near their homes, none of them want to return. 

In the context of your visits to Assam, do you see yourself emerging as a pan-India Muslim leader, instead of being restricted only to the Old City part of Hyderabad?

No, I am realistic. I am working in Maharashtra, Karnataka, which were part of the old Nizam's Hyderabad state. I am deliberately not going to Uttar Pradesh or West Bengal. Not that we won't draw crowds there. In Andhra Pradesh, we are focussing on our primary branches.

I can contest more seats but I am only apprehensive about a situation where the BJP wins because of the AIMIM contesting. 

Please click on NEXT to read further


Image: Refugees in a relief camp in Assam
Photographs: Reuters

Prev     Next

'I see water wars if Andhra Pradesh is divided'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

You are the MP from Hyderabad, a city that is witnessing quite a bit of turmoil over Telangana. But your party has taken a stand that it is not for bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. 

Yes, that is what we submitted to the Srikrishna committee also. Whether we like it or not, the history of Hyderabad has seen a lot of bloodshed in Operation Polo in 1948. Yes, people may criticise our party also for it. I am not justifying. Thousands of Muslims were unemployed, lost land and families in Karnataka and Maharashtra. It was like a division for us.

Then we have seen a series of communal riots in the '70s, '80s and '90s. Majority of the riots took place in Telangana. If because of history the state is divided, the biggest gainer will be the BJP because the TRS will be irrelevant once Telangana is formed. The MIM also will become powerful, but at what cost? I do not want to become powerful and have the BJP in power. End of the day, I do not want the BJP to be powerful. 

You do not even favour a common capital or an Union territory status for Hyderabad?

It cannot be a common capital like Chandigarh because the Andhra border would be at least 160 km from Hyderabad, on either of the two sides. If it becomes a Union territory, where will Hyderabad get its water from?

I foresee water wars if Andhra Pradesh is divided. And Telangana will not survive without Hyderabad. Can coastal Andhra survive without Hyderabad, I have my doubts. 

So what then is the way out? There is an emotional demand for a separate Telangana, how long can the Centre procrastinate?

Delhi needs to take a national view on the division of existing states. I do not know what they will do. This procrastination will not help. Investment is flying away from the state and existing companies are not making further investments here. We are destroying a fantastic city like Hyderabad with our own hands. 

Please click on NEXT to read further


Photographs: SnapsIndia

Prev     Next

'Jagan Reddy is a force to reckon with'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

But at the same time, you cannot ignore the demonstrations and rallies that are held for the cause of Telangana either?

Demonstrating is a fundamental right. But you cannot hold a city to ransom. Colleges in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema already have finished more portions of their syllabus than colleges in Telangana. Why should school, college students and labour class suffer? Why stop work in the city, why stop economic activity? 

Do you see support in Hyderabad for a separate Telangana state?

See, the Telangana Rastriya Samithi today does not have a single legislator or corporator in Hyderabad. In the city and surrounding areas, the party has not found favour in electoral battles, which to my mind is the ultimate test. And if they continue to behave like this, whatever little support they may have also will evaporate. 

Where do you see the Telangana movement going from here then?

There is a clear division within the movement. Vimalakka criticising K Chandrasekhar Rao is a sign. Kodandaram versus KCR is another. Congress leaders are feeling left out because they are cross that their high command is only listening to KCR. 

You are quite close to Jagan Reddy. Do you see him emerging as a strong force in Andhra Pradesh?

He is a force to reckon with. We have to accept that he has been able to fill in the leadership vacuum caused after YSR's death, to a certain extent. Whether he can continue his electoral success that he tasted in the byelections in June, will depend on his strategy from now on.

Please click on NEXT to read further


Image: Jaganmohan Reddy
Photographs: SnapsIndia

Prev     Next

TOP photo features of the week

Prev     More

Click on MORE to see another set of PHOTO features...



Tags: PHOTO , MORE , TOP

Prev     More