A BJP leader in western Uttar Pradesh, who also enjoys the ceremonial rank of a minister in Yogi Adityanath's government, has visited the family of a man accused of shooting at AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi and declared him to be innocent. On Wednesday, Sunil Bharala, who is the chairperson of the state labour welfare board, visited the family of Sachin Sharma, a resident of Dadri, who is in jail for allegedly shooting at Mr Owaisi.
The attack on the AIMIM chief took place on February 3 at a toll plaza near Hapur, when he was out for campaigning. His car tyres were punctured, no one was injured.
"There should be an impartial probe and no innocent man should be punished like this. We met the brother and parents of the boy and it is not even confirmed so far whether they were involved. Owaisi uses very aggressive and abusive language all the time. We have assured full support to the family(Sachin's family)," Mr Bharala said.
Sachin Sharma -- who is accused of attempt to murder in a past case as well -- claims to be a member of a Hindu right-wing organization and has been seen in photographs with political leaders from the state, including Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma.
The other accused in the case is Shubham, a farmer from Saharanpur.
The attack on Mr Owaisi, an MP and senior political leader, had ripples in parliament, where Union Home Minister Amit Shah urged him to accept "Z" category security -- the second highest level of security cover.
"There is a threat to Owaisi's security... the government has decided to provide 'Z' category security (with a bullet-proof) car but Owaisi has refused. I request, through the members of the House, that he accept this cover," Mr Shah had told Parliament.
Mr Owaisi had turned down the offer of Z category security earlier, saying he only wishes to be an "A-category citizen".
"I want to live, to speak. My life will be safe when the poor are safe. I will not get scared of those who shot at my car," Mr Owaisi had said in Parliament.
Today, Mr Owaisi posted a campaign speech on Twitter saying, "We are not afraid of bullets. Will get martyred but will never bow down."
"Your bullets will finish but my words won't. Owaisi is no longer alone in Uttar Pradesh. I have mobilised lakhs of people in UP about how to use their voices... All you people need to stand up for yourselves... Yes you all should raise your voices like this and because of your voices Baba (reference to Yogi Adityanath) will get afraid," he said.