Mild tension prevailed at Jumeraat Bazaar in Hyderabad’s Old City area late on Wednesday night after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Raja Singh attempted to erect a statue of Rani Avanti Bai Lodh, a freedom fighter.
The Goshamahal legislator was also injured as a scuffle ensued between his supporters and the police, who pointed out that he did not have permission to install the statute.
Speaking to TNM, Shahinayathgunj SHO Chand Basha said, “The incident happened around 1 am when Raja Singh and his followers visited the spot. There is a 6-7 feet tall statue of Rani Avanti for many years now at the Y-junction there, but the MLA wanted to replace it with a statue that was almost 25 feet tall.”
“When we pointed out that he did not have permission for the same, he did not listen to us and insisted that he would put it up. Additionally, the statue was also made of plaster of paris and fibre, so besides causing congestion, it could potentially fall down due to strong winds and even result in injuries to bystanders,” he added.
While the police said that a scuffle broke out, they denied they had attacked him. A video of the incident that was released also corroborates the police version of events.
The video shows Raja Singh pick up a big stone and hit himself on the head, even as the police attempt to stop him. Following this, one of his supporters is seen touching his head, showing that he is bleeding and trying to rile up others.
Watch the video below.
Senior police officials told TNM that Raja Singh came with around 50 people around 11 pm and the crowd had swelled to around 500 by 2.30 am.
The police said that with the monsoon approaching and strong winds being expected, the statue would have posed a danger to the public at the Y-junction, which witnesses traffic congestions for most part of the day. The new statue has been erected and sits precariously on the platform.
The police even said that they tried to protect Raja Singh from hurting himself so that the matter does not escalate, but in vain.
Around 100 policemen along with quick response teams and personnel of the Rapid Action Force were deployed to restore normalcy in the area.
However, Raja Singh alleged that he was hit by four police officers – ACP Goshamahal M Narender, ACP Asif Nagar Narsimha Reddy, and Sub-Inspectors Gurumurthy and Ravi Kumar from the Shahinayathgunj police station. The BJP MLA insisted that he was hit with lathis, which resulted in the injury.
He later availed treatment for the head injury at the Osmania General Hospital at 3 am on Thursday.
The police have registered a case against Raja Singh, under sections of the IPC dealing with unlawful assembly and rioting. Officials said that other sections would be added later.
The spot on Thursday morning
Police who were present at the spot also told TNM that the ruckus was being created with an intention to flare up sentiments and sow communal disharmony in the locality.
Telangana BJP State President Dr Laxman and MLC Ramchander Rao along with other party leaders are expected to call on Raja Singh at his residence later on Thursday.
The old statue
Raja Singh, the only BJP MLA in the present Telangana Assembly, has been repeatedly accused of making controversial statements and speeches. He has 43 criminal cases against him, most of them related to spreading enmity on religious grounds, as per his latest affidavit filed in December 2018.