There was a pleasant lull at Darussalam, the headquarters of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) in Hyderabad on Wednesday evening as the sun set.
People scurried about making arrangements, setting up chairs, lights, checking the sound system, even as a large battalion of policemen were huddled in a corner of the ground, with a senior officer addressing them.
Police had been deployed as part of regular bandobast for a public meeting. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) had called a meeting to discuss the Uniform Civil Code. Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owasi, a member of the Board, would be one of the speakers.
As the sun set, the call to 'Maghrib' or the fourth prayer of the daily five prayers of Islam, blared from loudspeakers mounted atop mosques in Aghapura, where Darussalam is located.
As the prayer finished, people started pouring into the grounds, with a sense of anticipation and high expectations from the public meeting.
“Dekho aaj Owaisi saab kya jawab denge in logon ko (See how Owaisi sir replies to these people today),” a man told his friend as they headed towards the stage in the ground opposite the AIMIM headquarters.
A 'special arrangement' was made for women to watch the proceedings on an LCD screen set up at the venue. They were seated in an area right behind the main stage which they could access through a separate entrance. The entire walkway to the area was covered with a large curtain.
The meeting was addressed by leaders from all Islamic sects and schools of thought and went on till late in the night on Wednesday.
As the crowd poured in and the dignitaries started arriving on the stage, Owaisi was one of the first to arrive and the program began despite half the stage being empty. There was no woman on the stage.
No time was wasted in getting the crowd fired up, as the host of the evening, went into a monologue talking about how Muslims have remained discriminated for too long amid affirmative nods.
The crowd continues to gather as speakers also step up their game with slogans like “Zamanat badlega par Quran nahi badlega (The times may change but the Quran never will),” and “Mar jayenge lekin Shariat badelne nahi denge (We will die, but we will never let anyone change the Sharia law).”