Sunday, May 01, 2011

Murderous attack on MIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi in Hyderabad

The murderous attack on AIMIM second-in-command Akbaruddin Owaisi, the younger brother of MP Barrister Asaduddin Owaisi, gives a reflection of the murky real estate business that powers both the politicians as well as the mafia.

That the leader of a party, which is firmly entrenched in Old Hyderabad, was fired upon openly and stabbed repeatedly in his own citadel, shows how disputes over land can lead to such violence.

Owaisi was hit by three bullets and his condition was critical*. He was also attacked by knife-wielding assailants several times. The brutal attack that caused tension in the walled city was widely condemned by different sections.

However, the incident in the party's stronghold has come as a shock even for the AIMIM [All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen] and its supporters. The Hyderabad-based party, which has an alliance with Congress, is known for its strong-arm tactics.

Hyderabad is one of the fastest growing Cities in India. Apart from the software boom, the strong Hyderabadi diaspora--from Gulf to United States (US)--has led to skyrocketing land prices in the Andhra Pradesh capital.

The builders and local-level politicians have earned enormously in terms of both clout and cash due to their association with Majlis. Naturally this affects the rival parties as well who are losing out. The ongoing drive initiated by Majlis against 'land sharks' seems the latest provocation.

When their interests are harmed, the land mafia can strike with vengeance.  This seems to have happened on this occasion. The drive to get Waqf land freed of encroachments was being seen by the rivals as an attempt by Majlis to gain further control over real estate in Hyderabad.

It is also said that Owaisis wanted all land deals okayed by them. This was naturally not acceptable to the other parties that were involved in property business.

The Majlis, in its official statement, has termed it a conspiracy hatched by the land grabbers against the party's campaign. 

The rival, a former wrestler Mohammad Pahalwan, who has been termed mastermind of the murderous assault on the Chandrayangutta legislator, is said to be close to MIM's rival group, the Majlis Bachao Tehreek (MBT).

Urdu newspapers Siasat and Munsif, whose owners had supported TDP and had joined hands against Majlis' newspaper Etemad, have been bitter critics of the Owaisis. This is also visible in their coverage of the Saturday's attack in Barkas.

Siasat also published Pahalwan's version, as per which, it was Owaisi whose supporters had attacked on his relatives' houses. He claimed that he was falsely implicated and unfair propaganda was spread that he had masterminded the assault.

Owaisi's fellow legislator Ahmad Balala was also injured. His gunmen fired during the clash and as a result one person belonging to Pahalwan's group was killed. One hopes that Owaisi, the floor leader of the party in Assembly, is saved.

But there are many lessons in this story. Of course, such gang wars have occurred in different cities in the past. With growing influence [as also interests of a party or family in different fields], the opponents who find themselves pushed to the wall, and finding it difficult to survive in 'business', resort to violence.

Land remains the eternal cause of conflict. Land mafias and their political patronge is nothing new in urban India. That's the story which is repeated again and again across different cities. Thus the clash in Hyderabad is no exception.

[*On Sunday the doctors again termed his condition as critical but 'showing improvement']