Shutdown in parts of Hyderabad to condemn attack on journalists (Lead)

January 24th, 2009 - 6:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Jan 24 (IANS) Parts of the Andhra Pradesh capital Saturday observed a shutdown in response to the call given by opposition parties to protest an attack by alleged Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) activists on Zahid Ali Khan, the editor of Urdu daily Siasat, and three other journalists.Khan, reporters Athar Moin and Mubashiruddin Khurram and photographer Laeeq were injured in the attack late Friday night.

All four have been admitted to a private hospital here. The two reporters sustained grievous injuries.

Khan told reporters that he and the two reporters and a photographer 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.

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 the legislator 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, an ally of the ruling Congress party.

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 cannot be allowed in a democracy.”

The shutdown call, however, had no impact on normal life though some shops and business establishments remained closed in some parts of the old city. The activists of the opposition parties took out a rally condemning the attack.

Andhra Pradesh Union of Working Journalists also condemned the attack. Members of APUWJ took out a protest march from state assembly to the office of director general of police.

A delegation of APUWJ leaders D. Anjaneyulu, M.S. Hashmi and others submitted a memorandum to the police chief demanding arrest the culprits. They called for immediate steps by the authorities to protect freedom of press.

The editor of Siasat 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.

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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