Four assailants shot at three-time Andhra Pradesh legislator and prominent Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) leader Akbaruddin Owaisi in Hyderabad on Saturday. A profusely bleeding Owaisi was rushed to the family-run Owaisi Hospital where he was initially declared critical. However, his condition stabilised later in the day.
“Luckily, the heart and lungs were not affected. He is responding well,” said a doctor.
MIM, which is an ally of the ruling Congress party, has seven legislators in the 294-member house and is the final arbiter in matters relating to the old city of Hyderabad, a Muslim-majority area. Owaisi is the son of MIM party founder Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi.
The police suspect the attack to be a fall-out of the political rivalry between MIM and a local group, led by Mohammed Pehlwan. Pehlwan, once an aide of Owaisi, allegedly quit MIM following a dispute over the control of a cemetery. Owaisi has been preventing land-grabbers from encroaching on valuable government land.
The attack took place around 11am when Owaisi was participating in a padyatra in his assembly constituency, Chandrayangutta, in the old city of Hyderabad. According to witnesses, around five people shot at him as he was getting into his vehicle, and then stabbed him. Owaisi does not have a police escort, and most of the time drives himself.
Another MIM legislator, Ahmad Balala, and a corporator were also injured in the attack. Balala’s security guard fired in retaliation, killing one of the attackers and injuring another, the police said.
Following the attack, a large number of MIM activists gathered at the hospital. Tension gripped the old city as news of the attack spread.