Suspended BJP MLA T Raja Singh on Thursday, 25 August, became the first legislator from the Telugu-speaking states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh against whom the Preventive Detention (PD) Act was invoked.
He was arrested on Thursday by Hyderabad City Police and sent to Cherlapally Central Jail after a medical checkup.
The cops referred to him in a statement as a “rowdy sheeter” of Mangalhat, and termed him a habitual offender who delivers provocative and inflammatory speeches, thereby driving a wedge between communities, which leads to public disorder. This, they explained, was why the PD Act was invoked against him.
The police usually invoke the PD Act against habitual and notorious offenders to keep them in jail for one year.
The cops said in the aforementioned statement that records disclose that out of the total of 101 criminal cases registered against him in different police stations of Hyderabad since 2004, 18 concerned communal offences.
Why was he arrested under the PD Act?
According to the Hyderabad City Police, Raja Singh posted an offensive video on 22 August on YouTube with the title “Faruqui K Aaka Itihaas Suniye [sic]”, in which he spoke against Prophet Muhammad.
The police alleged that the video — which has since been taken down — was uploaded to provoke the Muslim community and cause a breach of peace and public tranquillity.
Raja Singh “commented very blasphemously against Prophet Muhammad and his lifestyle,” said the police in a statement.
The cops added that when the video went viral, protests erupted in different parts of Hyderabad and other parts of Telangana.
Sensing danger to life and property, people panicked and closed their shops and establishments, the police noted. The entire population of the city and the state went into a grip of fear and shock by his activity, they said.
The police alleged that Raja Singh, before being detained on Tuesday, told reporters that nothing would deter him from posting more speeches and videos on this issue, and that he would shortly post more speeches on YouTube.
“Any venomous hate speech has the potential of provoking individuals to commit acts of riot, indiscriminate violence, terrorism, etc. Offensive speech has real and devastating effects on people’s lives and risks their health and safety and severely affects fraternity, dignity of individuals, unity and national integration and also offends the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India, [sic]” the police said in their statement.
The cops also noted that Raja Singh had been continuously creating hatred and ill-will between communities, resulting in widespread unrest among the people in Hyderabad and other parts of Telangana.
“He has been continuously causing widespread fear, unrest, and panic among the general public for a long period of time by committing such offences and acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order apart from disturbing the peace, tranquillity and communal harmony in the society,” said the police.