Babhli row: Cases against Naidu withdrawn

Nanded Police on Tuesday filed an affidavit in court withdrawing charges against TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu who is in jail after being arrested for protesting in Mahrashtra over Babhli dam issue.

Zeenews Bureau

Hyderabad/Mumbai: Nanded Police on Tuesday filed an affidavit in court withdrawing
charges against TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu who is in jail after being arrested for protesting in Mahrashtra over Babhli dam issue.

Sources have also revealed that the Maharashtra government may fly Naidu back to Andhra Pradesh.
Earlier today, the political temperatures escalated over the Babhli issue as Maharashtra government shifted TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu and his supporters from Dharmabad to Aurangabad jail, triggering charges of police high-handedness.

The sensitive issue saw the Congress government of Andhra Pradesh side with the opposition TDP for the first time in the matter as Chief Minister K Rosaiah denounced police action and decided to lead an all-party delegation to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Delhi on July 23.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil informed the state Assembly a decision on sending Naidu back to Andhra Pradesh would be taken by tomorrow.

A day after the TDP called a state-wide bandh to protest Naidu`s arrest, the former Chief Minister along with other arrested lawmakers was bundled into police vehicles and shifted to Aurangabad amid vehement protests by supporters who were baton-charged.

TDP MLC Y B Rajendra Prasad, who claimed he was among those who faced police action, alleged that Naidu and others were "indiscriminately manhandled", resulting in injuries to some legislators.

Naidu`s shirt was torn in the melee when Maharashtra police drove the TDP chief`s personal security guards away from the scene, Prasad told agency.

He alleged that Naidu`s guards were chased away though the TDP chief was given special protection and the police showed no regard for the leader, who was not well after being in custody for past four days.

The TDP MLA further alleged that MLC Sidda Raghavaiah, MLAs K Dayakar Reddy and Gampa Govardhan were injured in the police action, while former AP Home Minister T Devender Goud was also manhandled. Mobile phones and SIM cards of some legislators were damaged and seized, he claimed.

The police action drew criticism not only from TDP leaders in Hyderabad, who termed it as "barbaric", but also Chief Minister Rosaiah.
"I strongly condemn the lathi-charge on Chandrababu Naidu and others by the Maharashtra police while they were being shifted from Dharmabad this morning," Rosaiah said in a statement.

While appealing for restraint on the "delicate issue" Rosaiah said, "I am leading an all-party delegation on the issue to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on July 23. I appeal to
all political parties and people to join hands with the government in finding an amicable solution to the problem."

Notwithstanding the appeal for restraint, TDP workers led by MLAs N Janardhan Reddy and P Keshav, party general secretary Varla Ramaiah and MLC D Veerbhadra Rao attempted to force their way into the Jubilee Hall where Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was engaged in a meeting with Finance Ministers from southern states.

However, the agitators, who wanted to meet Mukherjee and the CM to lodge protest over the incident, were arrested.

Furious TDP student wing leaders took out a procession and burnt effigies of Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan`s at Punjagutta graveyard in Hyderabad.

Meanwhile, the BJP has sought the Central Government to intervene in the Babhli row and find a reasonable solution.

"It is high time that the the Centre intervenes in the matter and calls a meeting of both Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra for evolving a reasonable solution," senior BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu told agency in Hyderabad.

A delegation of senior TDP leaders met state governor E S L Narasimhan in the Raj Bhavan and demanded that the Maharashtra government withdraw cases against Naidu and others and express regret over the "ill-treatment" to him.

The CPI and CPI-M too slammed the Maharashtra government on the issue.
Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil, while denying the charge of ill-treatment of Naidu and other arrested TDP leaders, said a decision on sending them back to Andhra Pradesh will be taken in a day`s time.

Claiming that Naidu and his colleagues were being being looked after well, Patil deplored media reports in Andhra Pradesh about they being "ill-treated".

Cutting across party lines, MLAs in Maharashtra demanded that the arrested TDP leaders be sent back to Andhra Pradesh.

Naidu and his supporters were arrested at Dharmabad on Friday after they crossed over to Maharashtra on their way to inspect the Babhli barrage on Godavari river in Nanded district. Their judicial remand was yesterday extended till July 26 after they declined to take bail.

The two states are locked in a legal dispute over sharing of water from the river and TDP has been accusing Maharashtra of irregular construction of various irrigation projects on it harming the interest of lower riparian state Andhra Pradesh.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the matter on August 10.

With PTI Inputs

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