Charges against Naidu dropped, high drama at Aurangabad (Second Lead)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

AURANGABAD - Apprehending a major law and order problem, the Maharashtra government Tuesday dropped all charges against Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu, who was arrested after he attempted to visit a dam under construction in the state. But there was high drama at the airport here as he and his supporters refused to board a plane back to Hyderabad.

“Most of Naidu’s supporters stopped the aircraft by lying flat in front of it. Naidu also took a long time to board the aircraft,” said an airport source.

“The policemen had to literally go to each of Naidu’s supporters, physically lift him and urge him to board the airport,” the source said.

Around 600 policemen in the airport premises tried to control the chaos created by Naidu’s supporters and Shiv Sena activists.

While the policemen outside the airport were trying to control Shiv Sena activists who were shouting slogans of sending Naidu and his supporters back to Hyderabad, another team of policemen were working hard to convince Naidu and his supporters to board the aircraft.

The Maharashtra government Tuesday evening decided to drop all charges against Naidu and his supporters and ferry them back to Andhra Pradesh.

District Collector Ajay Ghulane said the move comes following a recommendation by the state law and judiciary ministry.

Official sources in Mumbai said the move was prompted by state-wide protests against Naidu and the TDP’s anti-Babli dam agitation.

The TDP leaders, including Naidu, were arrested Friday when they entered Dharmabad town, around eight kilometres from the Maharashtra-Andhra Pradesh border in Nanded district, to protest against the Babli dam on Godavari river. They alleged that Maharashtra was building the dam illegally and this would deprive Andhra Pradesh of its due share of Godavari waters.

Earlier Tuesday, Naidu and his supporters were Tuesday moved from Dharmabad in Maharashtra’s Nanded district to the Aurangabad Central Jail. They were remanded to judicial custody till July 26 but all charges against them were dropped by evening.

Naidu’s cavalcade left Dharmabad for Aurangabad, nearly 475 km away, with heavy security and was greeted by protests, slogan-shouting, stone-pelting and black flags all along the route.

The Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, in the meanwhile, adopted an aggressive stance and upped their anti-TDP stance. Hundreds of activists from both parties squatted on the roads reading to the Harsul Central, on the outskirts of the historic city.

The issue has also rocked the Maharashtra legislature for the past two days.

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