Naidu arrested during indefinite fast, TDP calls shutdown

Monday, December 20, 2010

HYDERABAD - Former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu was arrested early Monday and taken to hospital over his indefinite fast to demand a relief package for farmers, prompting his Telugu Desam Party (TDP) to call for a shutdown.

Naidu, along with son Lokesh, and several TDP leaders were forcibly removed and bodily lifted from the hunger strike camp in the New MLA Quarters amid high drama and tension around 4.30 a.m.

There was an outburst of TDP protests in all 23 districts of the state soon after Naidu was arrested. TDP workers took to the streets, burnt effigies of the chief minister, stopped buses from coming out of depots and staged road blockades.

“If necessary, we will move a no-confidence motion against the anti-farmer government in the state,” said TDP leader P. Keshav while leading a protest.

The leader of opposition was shifted to Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS), where he is continuing a fast. TDP leaders claimed he has also refused to undergo treatment.

The TDP chief is on a fast for the last four days demanding that the government pay adequate compensation to farmers who lost their crops in recent rains.

Angry over Naidu’s arrest, TDP called for a state-wide shutdown Monday. Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) supported the call.

Opposition activists took to the streets in different parts of the state, stopped buses of state-owned Road Transport Corporation (RTC) and forced closure of educational institutions and shops.

Protests against Naidu’s arrest broke out in different parts of Hyderabad, Tirupati, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Guntur and other towns.

TDP leaders alleged that a leader who served as chief minister for nine years was ill treated by police. Television pictures showed an angry Naidu grabbing the hair of policemen when he was bodily lifted from the hunger strike camp.

At one point Naidu fell down when police personnel tried to put him on a stretcher amid utter chaos and protests by TDP leaders and workers. Police officers had a tough time in handling the situation as Naidu was protected by armed guards of the National Security Guard (NSG).

Naidu’s son Lokesh sustained minor injuries when policemen lifted him as he tried to resist his father’s arrest. Several party leaders sustained bruises in the melee.

“The manner in which Naidu and others were arrested reminds us of the black days of emergency,” said TDP legislator E. Dayakar Rao.

Police were gearing up to arrest Naidu since Sunday evening as his blood pressure, sugar and sodium level fell significantly. Earlier, he rejected the appeal by Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy to end his fast.

Around midnight, police made an attempt to convince Naidu to call off his fast but failed. TDP leaders also resisted police attempt to arrest Naidu around 1 a.m. by forming a human chain and locking the gates of the New MLA Quarters from inside.

However, a few hours later police broke open the door and arrested Naidu and others.

Filed under: Politics

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