Defying Section 144 of CrPC imposed in Mumbai, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi, in a show of strength ahead of local polls in parts of Maharashtra, including the BMC elections next year, addressed a large gathering in the city on Saturday.
The rally was held despite the Mumbai Police imposing Section 144 in the city over the weekend, prohibiting gathering of four persons or more. Mumbai Police spokesperson DCP Chaitanya S said that no FIR was registered against the party after the rally.
Sources in AIMIM alleged that the Maha Vikas Agadhi (MVA) government had imposed prohibitory orders under CrPC to stop the party’s Tiranga rally at Chandivali on Saturday.
In his address at Chandivali, Owaisi said: “Many restrictions were imposed for our rally. I want to see what the government does when (Congress leader) Rahul Gandhi comes to Mumbai on December 28 for a rally… whether the government imposes Section 144 of CrPC or cites Omicron as a reason for imposing restrictions.”
To coincide with 75 years of Independence, the AIMIM took out the rally with Tricolour atop cars. Owaisi said, “One may not like Majlis or Musalmin, but one can’t dislike the Tiranga, which is a symbol of nationalism and those who sacrificed for freedom. The ‘Quit India’ slogan was raised first by a Muslim in Mumbai.”
Stepping up the demand for reservation for Muslims, he cited that while 83 per cent of the community in Maharashtra were landless, only 8 per cent of the Marathas were landless. “As many as 67 per cent of Muslims stay in kuchcha houses. But neither Congress nor NCP will speak on this,” he added.
Owaisi said, “When elections come, I get messages saying that the Muslim vote will get divided if I contest… when Congress-NCP saw power (within grasp), they went with Shiv Sena, which openly backs those who demolished Babri Masjid. I don’t believe in political secularism, I believe in the secularism mentioned in the Constitution.’’ The rally was also addressed by AIMIM MP Imitiyaz Jaleel and MLA Farooq Shah.
Jaleel, the Aurangabad MP, said, “The MVA government did its best to stop me, but still I have come… We started with 250 cars and the police said they will not let us go… we know who was putting pressure on the police. I was stopped by so many police personnel that I thought whether I am a MP or a terrorist.” Jaleel asked his party bosses to hand over Mumbai’s responsibility to him. “If Aurangabad can give one MP, then Mumbai can give four MLAs,” he said. When contacted, Congress leader Atul Londhe said, “Why did AIMIM not fight for quota when BJP was ruling state? It is clear that AIMIM is the B team of BJP…”
NCP Minister Nawab Malik said, “Everyone has the right to hold rallies. But in a pandemic, all parties have to take care and follow the restrictions imposed.”