Bhabli row: Naidu flown back to Hyderabad

TDP chief was flown back to Hyderabad after Maha govt withdrew cases against him on the Bhabli row.

Aurangabad: Amid a high-voltage drama, a
defiant TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu was put on a special
aircraft and flown back to Hyderabad with his supporters this
evening after Maharashtra government withdrew cases against
them in connection with their protest on the Bhabli dam issue.

The denouement to the dramatic events that unfolded
last Friday with their arrest at Dharmabad on Andhra Pradesh
border, came when the former chief minister and TDP
legislators were forcibly put on a chartered flight arranged
by the Maharashtra government.
Officials speaking on condition of anonymity said some
of them had to be physically lifted to the airplane after they
squatted on the runway shouting "we want justice" while others
boarded without offering resistance.

Naidu and his contingent of TDP legislators and
leaders were earlier scheduled to be taken to Aurangabad
prison after being transferred from the makeshift jail at
Industrial Training Institute at Dharmabad this morning.

According to Bharat Bhosle, the superintendent of
Aurangabad jail, two barracks were kept ready for them.

However, eager to wriggle out of the sticky situation
after Naidu declined to accept bail, the Maharashtra
government, in a last minute change in script, dropped the
charges to pave the way for his return.

The home department faxed a letter to Nanded district
collector asking him to inform the Dharmabad court through the
public prosecutor that the government was withdrawing the case
relating to violation of 144 CrPC (prohibitory orders) against
Naidu and others.

Earlier in the day, tempers ran high at the Dharmabad
ITI where TDP legislators and leaders scuffled with the
police, who allegedly used force to make them board the
vehicles to take them to Aurangabad.

Some legislators were alleged to have been injured and
their mobile phones damaged in the melee in which Naidu`s
shirt was claimed to have been torn.

Apparently upset over the developments, Andhra Pradesh
Chief Minister K Rosaiah issued a statement condemning the
police action and announcing that he would lead an all-party
delegation to Delhi to meet the Prime Minister.

There were protests in Hyderabad where enraged TDP
workers burnt effigies of Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok
Chavan and made attempts to gratecrash into a meeting Union
Finance Minsiter Pranab Mukherjee was having with the Finance
Ministers of southern states.
In Maharashtra too, Shiv Sena and MNS workers showed
black flags to Naidu on way from Dharmabad to Aurangabad and
also shouted slogans against him at the airport.

Earlier, a combative Naidu said he would not return to
Hyderabad without inspecting the dispute Bhabli project site.

"I am not going to Hyderabad...They (Maharashtra
Police) are bringing us by force," he said and rubbished
suggestions that he was engaging in a political stunt just for
political mileage ahead of the assembly by-polls in Telangana.

"For the last five years, I am fighting on the issue.
I met the prime minister twice," he said and vowed to continue
the struggle for securing Andhra Pradesh`s due share of
Godavari water.

Naidu`s arrest had led to tensions in both the states
with Andhra Pradesh observing a TDP-sponsored bandh yesterday.
There were protests in Maharashtra too against the TDP
leader`s refusal to accept bail and go back.

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

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