Andhra opposition calls for shutdown to protest attack on journalists

January 24th, 2009 - 12:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Jan 24 (IANS) Opposition parties in Andhra Pradesh Saturday called for a shutdown here to protest an attack by alleged Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) activists on Zahid Ali Khan, the editor of Urdu daily Siasat, and two reporters.Zahid Ali Khan, who received minor injuries in Friday night’s attack, told reporters that he and two reporters of his newspaper were attending the marriage of a staff member at a hall near the historic Charminar when MIM workers led by party legislator Mumtaz Ahmed Khan attacked them.

He said the reporters, Athar Moin and Mubashiruddin Khurram, sustained grievous injuries and were admitted to a private hospital.

Soon after the incident, Siasat employees as well as leaders and workers of opposition parties staged a sit-in protest at the Charminar police station, demanding the arrest of Mumtaz Ahmed Khan and others involved in the attack.

Members of the Telugu Desam Party, Telangana Rashtra Samiti, Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India-Marxists (CPI-M) and Majlis Bachao Tehreek participated in the protest against the MIM.

The MIM, an ally of the ruling Congress party, has one MP and five members in the state legislative assembly.

P. Madhu, Rajya Sabha MP of the CPI-M, told IANS: “We we have called for a shutdown to protest this criminal act by MIM leaders and workers. We are asking the Congress government to act tough against the MIM as it is repeatedly resorting to violence against its political opponents. This can’t be allowed in a democracy.”

Zahid Ali Khan had announced that he would contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from Hyderabad, a stronghold of the MIM. He is likely to be fielded as the common candidate of the opposition parties against sitting MP and MIM president Asaduddin Owaisi.

The Siasat editor alleged that the MIM resorted to the attack as it feared defeat in the elections. The Andhra Pradesh Union of Working Journalists has condemned the attack on the journalists and demanded stern action against the culprits.

Mumtaz Ahmed Khan, however, denied that he was behind the attack on the journalists. He said he was present at the function hall owned by his brother but had nothing to do with the incident.

Zahid Ali Khan was earlier attacked in March 2007, when some MIM workers allegedly threw filth on him. He had then blamed MIM legislator Afsar Khan for the attack.

Siasat, one of the oldest and leading Urdu dailies in India, has been locked in a bitter rivalry with the MIM leadership for the last few years. The MIM had launched Urdu daily Etemaad in 2007 to counter what it called a “false propaganda” by Siasat against the party.

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