Who is Raja Singh, the suspended BJP MLA accused of anti-Muslim remarks?

File photo of T Raja Singh

The now suspended BJP lawmaker has more than 75 FIRs against him, mostly related to hate speeches, violation of curfew orders, and disruption of law and order.

Basil Islam | TwoCircles.net 

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NEW DELHI — Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Goshamahal T Raja Singh was arrested on August 23 morning for his alleged derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad in a video posted on social media. Wide protests against his comments have led to clashes across the Old City in Hyderabad. Singh released a 10-minute video in which he allegedly made derogatory comments about the Prophet and Muslims. Singh said that if videos mocking Hindu gods by comedian Munawar Faruqui can be passed as comedy, why not of religious figures revered by other communities? But this was a false claim by Singh that Faruqui made such comments.

Singh tried to disrupt Faruqui’s show in Hyderabad last week. The now suspended BJP MLA was put in custody under Preventive Detention Act by police. He was granted bail later by a local court, which turned down the request for remand by the police for not following proper procedure in his arrest and ordered the immediate release of Raja Singh.

Challenging this move by the trial court, Hyderabad Police, which filed the plea before the HC on August 25, said the trial court had erred by not looking at the issue entirely. Police said 11 FIRs had been registered against Raja’s video, which he had uploaded to YouTube on August 22 with, according to the police, the sole intention of creating communal tension. He was detained under Preventive Detention (PD) and sent to jail for trying to disrupt “peace and public tranquillity”.

The BJP suspended the MLA hours after his arrest, with the secretary of the party’s central disciplinary committee sending a notice asking him to show cause within ten days as to why the party should not expel him.

Who is T Raja Singh?
Raja Singh is a two-time MLA to the Telangana state assembly. He represents the Goshamahal constituency in Hyderabad. In December 2018 Assembly elections, he was the only sitting BJP MLA out of a total of five who retained his seat amid the pro-Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) wave, Indian Express reported.

Singh entered politics as a TDP municipal councillor from Mangalhat in 2009 and was a Bajrang Dal member. However, during the 2014 general election, which made BJP win in the centre, he joined the party and won the Goshamahal assembly seat against Congress. Singh has a huge following in his constituency and surrounding areas in Hyderabad, especially as a fierce “gau rakshak”. He claimed that he and his followers had saved thousands of cows in Hyderabad.

According to Raja Singh, decades earlier, his forefathers settled in Hyderabad and made a living by making idols of gods and goddesses. Singh sold audio and video cassettes from a shop at his family home. However, he later wrapped up the business and ventured into domestic electrical wiring works.

The former BJP lawmaker has more than 75 FIRs against him, mostly related to hate speeches, violation of curfew orders, and disruption of law and order. He often issues statements or social media posts threatening those who oppose the Ram temple at Ayodhya.

Facebook banned Raja Singh in September 2020 for violating the company’s policy that prohibited “those that promote or engage in violence and hate from having a presence on our platform”.

Basil Islam is an independent journalist and researcher based in South India. He tweets at @baasiie