The Hyderabad City Police first placed the BJP’s Telangana floor leader T Raja Singh under Preventive Detention (PD) at his residence early in the afternoon on Friday, 19 August, and then announced that he had been arrested.
The BJP immediately condemned the move.
The police thereby prevented him from going to Shilpakala Vedika in Madhapur where standup comedian Munawar Faruqui is supposed to perform on Saturday.
“He was planning to go to Madhapur. He has been taken into preventive custody at his residence to maintain law and order,” a police officer told South First.
The officer refused to say how long Singh would remain in preventive custody. “We can’t say right now,” he said before the arrest was announced.
BJP leaders told reporters after the arrest that the party “seriously” condemned the police action against Rana.
Singh threatened violence
Singh on 11 August threatened that if Faruqui’s show was allowed in the city, he would go and burn the stage.
“KTR (Telangana IT and Industries Minister KT Rama Rao) invited him to Hyderabad and assured him of protection. If our sentiments are hurt, we will burn down the venue. The TRS government and the state police will be responsible,” the BJP legislator from Goshamahal had told South First.
He also said some of his supporters had bought online tickets to Faruqui’s show and would make all attempts to stop the programme. The BJP MLA demanded that the police cancel the permit issued for the event.
Earlier, Singh wrote to the Telangana Director General of Police (DGP), urging him not to allow the standup comedian to perform in Hyderabad.
Singh wrote, “Hindus will come out on the streets if Faruqui’s show is not cancelled in the city.”
Faruqui’s latest show is titled Dongri to Nowhere. The standup comedian had announced a performance in Hyderabad in January, but the show was cancelled due to a rise in Covid-19 cases fuelled by the Omnicron variant.
Faruqui, who emerged the winner of the first edition of Kangana Ranaut’s reality show Lock Upp this year, was the subject of a controversial arrest early last year.
He was arrested on 2 January, 2021, by the Madhya Pradesh Police for allegedly hurting religious sentiments with jokes cracked on Hindu deities.
The Supreme Court granted him bail a little more than a month later.
A history of cases
Over time, Singh has had a number of cases registered against him for making derogatory or inflammatory statements.
For example, he was booked in June for derogatory comments against Sufi saint Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin of Ajmer in Rajasthan.
In April, a case was been registered against him at the Shahinayathgunj and Sultan Bazar police stations in Hyderabad for provocative statements he made at a Ram Navami rally.
The Mangalghat police station also filed an FIR against him in February after the Election Commission of India ordered one, and barred him from making public statements for 72 hours regarding the then-ongoing elections given his statements threatening Uttar Pradesh voters.
In January 2021, a special court in Hyderabad — established in 2018 to try cases involving MLAs and MPs — delivered its first conviction when it found Singh guilty of assaulting and threatening a sub-inspector of the Bollaram police station in Hyderabad.
The case pertained to the “Beef Festival” organized in 2015 by the Joint Action Committee of students of Osmania University.
The court sentenced Singh to one year in prison and imposed a fine of ₹5,000 on him.
However, the court immediately gave the MLA one month’s time to appeal against the order in the high court, and also granted him bail.
He has already been acquitted in 10 cases by this special court.