AIMIM chief and Lok Sabha MP Asaduddin Owaisi, whose car was fired upon while he was returning to Delhi after attending election-related events in western Uttar Pradesh, has urged the Election Commission to ensure an independent probe is carried out into the incident. “I urge the EC to ensure an independent probe into the incident. It must be known who is behind this incident. It's also an appeal to the Modi government and the Yogi government,” he said, talking to reporters.
Owaisi's vehicle was near the Chhijarsi toll plaza on the Hapur-Ghaziabad stretch of the National Highway 24 when it was shot at, around 6 pm on February 3, Thursday. No one was injured in the incident, Owaisi said. “We were at the toll gate and had slowed down when we suddenly heard three-to-four rounds of gunshots. My car also got some dents and a tire got punctured,” he later told reporters.
The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) president and Hyderabad MP said he had left Delhi in the morning for election-related programs in Meerut and Kithore, where he held a foot march at 3.30 pm. Owaisi's convoy had four cars, he said.
Speaking to India Today, Owaisi said that after campaigning in Meerut and Kithaur, he was on his way to Delhi, when they reached the toll gate. “Before you cross the toll gate barricade, all the cars have to slow down … Suddenly we could hear a huge, loud bang … One person was firing from a ninety-degree angle, another was right opposite my door.” He said that his companion in his car hit the car in front of them (which was also part of their convoy) so that they could move ahead.
Owaisi told TV channels that he saw two attackers, one of them wearing a red hoodie, another wearing a white jacket. He said that the driver of one of the two cars behind them, which were also part of his convoy, hit the attacker in a red hoodie with the car, injuring his leg. Immediately, the other attacker, in the white jacket, started shooting at the cars behind Owaisi’s, he said, calling it a well-planned attack.
“This was a well-planned conspiracy. They knew I was going to Delhi from this route. It was a perfect plan because all cars slow down at the toll gate. They (the shooters) were not even ten feet away. It's really bizarre they missed from such close range,” he said, adding that they seemed to have known his day’s plan and that the toll gate was a vulnerable place for an attack.
“It is shocking and unfortunate that this happened to a sitting MP and party president, whose candidates are contesting UP elections,” he said. He also said that several media persons had informed him that many persons at a recent Dharma Sansad held at Prayagraj had abused and threatened Owaisi. When asked if he suspects anyone, Owaisi said, “I don't know who is behind this attack on me. I hope the concerned police will do an impartial inquiry. For once this nonsense should stop. You cannot keep firing on MPs, or people from minority communities. This is not good for our democracy, for the rule of law,” he said.
Speaking to Times Now, he addressed the shooters and said, “No matter what you do, you cannot stop me … It is for the country and nation to realise that anyone who speaks the language of the Constitution, anyone who talks about equality, justice, and fraternity, anyone who says we want our share in Indian democracy, and anyone who opposes any unconstitutional steps taken by any government, their voices are being silenced. This is a cowardly attack to take my life. I hope EC takes it very seriously, and I hope and expect for once that the Union government headed by PM Narendra Modi and the state government of Yogi Adityanath will do an impartial inquiry because this is a well-planned attack to take my life.”
The Hapur Police said two persons involved in the firing have been arrested while multiple teams are investigating the case, and that preliminary investigation revealed that they were distressed by some of Owaisi’s statements.
With PTI inputs