Hours after controversial Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA T Raja Singh was arrested on Tuesday, 23 August, for allegedly making derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad, the 14 Assistant Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court returned his remand application and ordered him to be released.
Singh was suspended by the BJP hours after he was arrested. The party also issued him a show cause notice for 10 days, asking him to explain why he should not be expelled, news agency ANI reported.
The court ordered his release after it noted that Section 41 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), as understood in the case of Arnesh Kumar v State of Bihar, was not followed during the arrest, reported LiveLaw.
A detailed copy of the order has not been released yet.
Singh Brought to Court Amid Arrests
Earlier in the day, when Singh was brought to the Nampally Court in Hyderabad, the police had to disperse his supporters and protesters who had gathered in opposition to his arrest.
In a purported video circulated on social media, Singh could be heard making offensive remarks about Islam and Muslims.
Singh has been booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 153A (promoting enmity between two groups), 295A (deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class), 505 (public mischief), and others at the Dabeerpura police station, news agency ANI reported, citing the police.
This comes after former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma stirred a massive row in June with her insult to the Prophet, which was condemned by 16 Islamic nations. She was suspended by the saffron party after several cases were lodged against her.
'There Will Be a Second Part Too': Raja Singh Reacts
The MLA reacted to the FIR registered against him and said that it was a comedy video aimed at comedian Munawar Faruqui and that it was not against any particular religion or community, The Indian Express reported.
"I do not understand on what basis the police registered the FIR because I did not take the name of any particular community. My video was aimed at Faruqui and I stand by my words, and I did not hurt anyone's sentiments. This was the first part of the video, there will be a second part too," he added.
During his arrest, the MLA told reporters that his video was pulled down by the social media platform on which it was uploaded and that he would upload "part 2" of the clip after his release.
"They removed my video from YouTube. I don't know what the police are going to do. Once I am released, the second part (of the video) will certainly be uploaded. I am doing it for Dharma. I am ready to die for Dharma," he said.
"Why are there complaints? Our Ram is not Ram? Our Sita is not Sita? I requested the DGP with folded hands not to allow the person (Munawar Faruqui) who made comedy with vulgar language against Ram and Sita," he said.
'BJP Hates Prophet Muhammad and Muslims': Owaisi
Meanwhile, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, while condemning Raja Singh's comments, said that the "BJP hates Prophet Muhammad and Muslims."
"BJP doesn't want to see that there is peace in Hyderabad. They want to destroy the social fabric of India," he said, according to news agency ANI.
Slamming Prime Minister Narendra Modi's silence on the issue, Owaisi urged him to respond.
"Fight with us politically but not like this. If PM Modi and BJP don't support these comments then they should react. I also condemn the slogans (Sar Tan Se Juda) that were raised and will say to those people to not take law in their hands," he added.
Hitting back at Owaisi's remarks, Union Minister G Kishan Reddy said, "This is absolutely wrong, I do not expect anything better from Asaduddin Owaisi. He'll never talk about the good things that BJP and PM Modi have done for the country. It is Owaisi's work to defame the Prime Minister and BJP."
'Disgraceful,' Says BSP Supremo Mayawati
Further, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati termed the remarks "disgraceful" and asked if it was not the responsibility of the BJP leadership to restrain its people to maintain peace in the country.
"The heated atmosphere across the country has not even cooled down completely over the controversial remarks by the now-suspended Nupur Sharma. Now another BJP leader, Telangana MLA Raja Singh, did the same kind of provocative act, which is disgraceful and utterly condemnable," the BSP president said in a tweet.
"Although the Telangana government has arrested the BJP MLA in Hyderabad today, is it not the responsibility of the BJP leadership to keep its people restrained and controlled to maintain peace and tranquility besides saving the country's image from getting hurt abroad," she added.
'Shameful and Shocking': Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind on Raja Singh's Statement
Maulana Mahmood Asa’d Madani, president of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, described Raja Singh's remarks on Prophet Muhammad as very "shameful and shocking." He further added that the BJP's action against Singh was the need of the hour.
"However, it is not sufficient until such offenders are given exemplary punishment," he added.
He also demanded that stringent and prompt action be taken against a former BJP MLA who recently confessed that he had killed Muslims through mob lynching.
Protests on Monday
Protests broke out in Hyderabad's Old City on Monday night following the BJP leader's remarks. Soon after the video surfaced, hundreds of people gathered at different police stations across the city and started protesting.
A large number of protesters gathered in front of Commissioner CV Anand's office at Basheerbagh and blocked the roads. Protesters also stormed the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police (South Zone). Similar protests took place at Bhavaninagar, Dabeerpura, Nampally, and other police stations, the report added.
The Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Itehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) party workers, as well as corporators of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, were also present at the protest in front of CV Anand's office, demanding the MLA's immediate arrest. AIMIM workers threatened to increase the scale of the protests if Singh was not arrested within 24 hours.
The police took some of the protesters at the commissioner's office into custody and shifted them to different police stations, while the rest of the protesters dispersed.
Senior police officials had rushed to supervise security arrangements and deployed forces in the city to prevent possible communal tensions.
Security is beefed up in Hyderabad after the protests and police pickets are posted at all the communally significant areas.
The Goshamahal MLA has been booked for several provocative speeches in the past.
The MLA was taken into preventive custody on 19 August for trying to disrupt Munawar Faruqui’s comedy show. He had alleged that the comedian had insulted Hindu gods in the past and said that the show should be cancelled. Nearly 50 people had reached the venue, including Raja Singh, and they were all taken into preventive custody, the police said.
He had also received a show cause notice from the Election Commission for threatening voters in Uttar Pradesh with "bulldozer action" if they did not vote for the BJP in February 2022.
In September 2020, Facebook banned T Raja Singh from having an officially verified Facebook account after his posts were flagged under the "Dangerous Individuals and Organisations" policy due to his hate speech and anti-minority rhetoric.
Singh had another case against him in 2017 for making derogatory hate speech against Muslims. He has been under scrutiny for multiple instances of hate speech between 2015 and 2017.
(With inputs from The Indian Express and ANI.)