Naidu's arrest in Maha triggers protests in Andhra
Andhra Pradesh was rocked by protests by thousands of Telugu Desam Party supporters, who took to the streets against the arrest of their leader N Chandrababu Naidu and party MLAs, MPs and other leaders in Maharashtra.
While about 100 party workers tried to force their way into the state secretariat, senior party leaders held a dharna outside the chambers of the Chief Minister K Rosaiah shouting slogans against the illegal irrigation projects of Maharashtra.
Naidu and 74 party lawmakers, who were arrested by Maharashtra Police at Dharmabad on Friday, has refused to accept bail conditions while a bandh was observed in the town on Saturday in protest against the "adamant" stand of the Andhra leaders.
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'We shall go to jail but not return to Andhra Pradesh'
The magistrate asked the TDP leaders to return to Andhra Pradesh immediately and offered to grant bail. Initially, a case under Section 151 CrPC was registered against the TDP leaders and later Sections 135, 143 and 188 of IPC were also included, which makes the arrested persons liable even for a jail term.
Chandrababu and others, however, stoutly refused to do so and asserted that they would return only after inspecting the controversial project, which they alleged was illegally built by the Maharashtra government. "We shall go to jail but not return to Andhra Pradesh without inspecting Babhli and other controversial projects," Chandrababu told the magistrate and added that they would continue the fight against the illegal projects till justice was done.
Meanwhile, traffic was stalled on Adilabad-Nagpur highway as angry TDP workers sat on the road near the Maharashtra border at Penganga shouting slogans. Similar protests were witnessed on Nizamabad-Nanded border from where Naidu's bus yatra had entered Maharashtra.
Tense situation at Maharashtra-Andhra border
Tense situation prevailed at the border crossing where hundreds of policemen have been deployed and barricades put up to stop TDP supporters from reaching Dharmabad town.
Similarly, people were also not being allowed to come near the Babili project across river Godavari, which has become the cause of dispute between the two states.
Naidu and his party colleagues had gone to Maharashtra to see the Babili project to check the violations by the state. Andhra Pradesh has been contending that Maharashtra has constructed Babili in an illegal manner, which will deprive the state its share of waters in river Godavari.
Alleging that the state Congress government was not doing anything in the matter, Naidu led the march to Babili leading to his arrest on Friday.
TDP organised protest demonstrations and processions across the state, including major cities of Tirupati, Vijaywada, Nellore and Visakhapatanam.
'They slept on the ground!'
The alleged ill treatment meted out to Naidu and other leaders by Maharashtra Police has touched the raw nerve of his supporters.
TDP's deputy floor leader in the state assembly Nagam Janardhan Reddy and Rajya Sabha member M V Mysoora Reddy alleged that Naidu and others were being treated by Maharashtra authorities as criminals.
Janardhan Reddy, who led a delegation to meet assembly speaker N Kirankumar Reddy, said: "Is this the way a leader of opposition is treated? Men and women were made to stay in the same room. They slept on the ground."
"There was no power supply and the room was filled with mosquitoes. There was only one toilet but there was no water. The Maharashtra Police were so harsh that they did not even allow our party workers to bring drinking water for the leaders," a party spokesman claimed.
However, a staffer at the ITI denied the charges, and said that ITI already has AC rooms and police brought in cots and placed them in the principal's cabin and conference hall. Naidu and some TDP MPs spent the night in the AC conference hall, he added.