Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) leader Akbaruddin Owaisi has been sent to five-day police custody by a court in Nirmal town in Andhra Pradesh's Adilabad district. The police had sought Mr Owaisi's custody for seven days to interrogate him.
The 42-year-old legislator was arrested earlier this week by the Hyderabad Police on charges of delivering a hate speech in Adilabad last month. He faces a number of charges including sedition, waging or attempting to wage war against the state, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, and for deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings.
The police will question Mr Owaisi for five days from Saturday, every day between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
While seeking his custody, the police said Mr Owaisi did not cooperate during the questioning after his arrest and they need to question him further. Mr Owaisi's lawyer opposed the police petition on the ground that he is not well. The magistrate directed police to provide necessary medical help and not to subject him to physical or mental torture.
The court adjourned the hearing on Mr Owaisi's petition till January 16, seeking special prisoner status for the legislator.
Meanwhile, a complaint was filed with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) today, seeking a ban on Akbaruddin Owaisi holding any public meetings and giving speeches, as it "bears a serious threat to the security of India." The complaint was filed by one Muthyam Prabhudas.
Yesterday, his older brother Asaduddin Owaisi, who is a Lok Sabha MP and heads the MIM, accused the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh of being "communal" in charging Akbaruddin with waging war against the state. He told NDTV, "By booking him under section 121, the government has shown its communal bent of mind... the feedback I am getting is that people are really angry. They are questioning how the government can impose section 121 of the IPC... how the government can say that Akbaruddin Owaisi is waging war against the government." Mr Owaisi senior alleged that by imposing section 121 and saying Akbaruddin has waged war against India, they are not just questioning him but questioning the loyalty of all Muslims of Andhra Pradesh.
Akbaruddin Owaisi was sent to jail for two weeks by a court early on Wednesday morning after undergoing medical tests at a government hospital in Nirmal. The MLA had pleaded that he be spared questioning on medical grounds. That plea was rejected after the tests as was his petition seeking transfer to a Hyderabad jail, again on medical grounds.
The legislator returned from London early on Monday and was arrested on Tuesday. He was then taken to a police station in Nirmal, about 200 km from Hyderabad, amid tight security. There was tension near the police station as some legislators staged a protest when they were not allowed to proceed towards it. Some of them had earlier tried to stop the convoy carrying Mr Owaisi but were dispersed by the police.
Akbaruddin Owaisi, who leads the MIM in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, represents Chandrayangutta constituency in the Old City of Hyderabad for a third time.
(With inputs from IANS