TDP leaders held during march as Naidu continues fast

Friday, December 24, 2010

HYDERABAD - Dozens of legislators and opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leaders were Friday arrested when they tried to lay siege to the state secretariat demanding relief for farmers who lost their crops in recent rains, while party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu continued his fast at a hospital here.

Tension prevailed in the high-security area when TDP legislators tried to march from the state assembly to the secretariat. Raising anti-government slogans, the leaders, including some MPs and former ministers, headed towards the secretariat when the police stopped them at Ravindra Bharati.

A heated argument ensued between TDP leaders and police officers. The opposition legislators, including those from Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) squatted on the road, leading to a traffic jam. The police then lifted them to waiting vehicles and took them to a police station.

The opposition parties had given a call to lay siege to the secretariat to protest the government’s silence over their demand and the forcible administration of intravenous fluids to Naidu. TDP claimed Naidu was continuing his fast in the intensive care unit.

Another group of TDP leaders reached near the secretariat’s main gate but were stopped by policemen. The leaders, who were raising slogans of “anti-farmer government”, were arrested as they tried to enter the secretariat.

“The police action is undemocratic. We are not being given an opportunity to even meet ministers and submit a memorandum,” said TDP legislator P. Keshav.

TDP MP Venugopal Reddy and legislators E. Dayakar Rao, who had managed to enter the secretariat earlier, staged a sit-in in front of C block that houses Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy’s office. They were also arrested.

The TDP, meanwhile, claimed that Naidu was continuing his fast on the eighth day at Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS).

In a statement released on Naidu’s behalf, TDP said the agitation on the farmer’s issue would continue and be intensified into a national agitation.

Doctors at NIMS Thursday night forcibly administered IV fluids as Naidu’s condition deteriorated Thursday night. NIMS director P.V. Ramesh said they had no other option as there was an imminent risk of Naidu slipping into a coma.

As police had obtained orders from a magistrate directing NIMS authorities to take care of Naidu’s health, police forcibly removed a few TDP leaders present in his room and also ordered his wife Bhuvaneswari and other relatives to leave.

The leader of opposition was then shifted to the intensive care unit and forcibly given IV fluids. Naidu had been refusing to take the same or undergo treatment since Monday, when he was arrested and brought to hospital.

The decision to forcibly give IV fluids was taken after a team of five doctors, including Naidu’s personal physician and eminent cardiologist B. Somaraju, examined him and felt he may slip into a coma, leading to organ failure.

At an all-party meeting Thursday, Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy had rejected all Naidu’s demands but agreed to take an all-party delegation to New Delhi to seek further financial assistance for farmers.

Naidu is demanding that the government declare the crop loss a national calamity, and pay compensation of Rs.10,000 per acre for food crops and Rs.15,000 per acre for commercial crops.

Opposition parties claim that about 150 farmers had committed suicide due to the massive crop losses they suffered in heavy rains early this month.

Filed under: Politics

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