Later Naidu and and his party colleagues landed in Hyderabad to a warm welcome by hundreds of supporters. The former Andhra Pradesh chief minister was arrested along with his entourage for violating prohibitory orders at Dharmabad in Nanded district, bordering Andhra Pradesh, on Friday when he entered the state to visit the Babhli barrage site on the Godawari river. He was remanded to judicial custody after he refused bail, and the remand was further extended till July 26.
Earlier in the day, Naidu was forcibly removed from the ITI campus where he was kept in judicial custody and was transported in an air-conditioned bus to Aurangabad with other leaders. The bus was sent under heavy escort of the Maharashtra police. The “bus yatra” reached Aurangabad airport instead of Harsool jail, where an Airbus was waiting to carry them off to Hyderabad. But Naidu refused to board the plane and insisted on permission to inspect the Babhli barrage at Dharmabad.
Meanwhile, in Nanded, the state filed an affidavit in the district court withdrawing charges against Naidu and others. In Mumbai, the state home minister R R Patil said that Naidu was detained in Dharmabad for unlawful assembly, and “there is no reason to keep him in custody endlessly.”
After a day-long drama, slogan shouting and protests, Naidu finally relented and boarded the plane at night. Aurangabad is an international tourist centre and has night landing and take off facility.
Naidu’s protest over the Babhli barrage is being seen here as an attempt to derive political mileage with an eye on July 27 bye-elections for a dozen constituencies in Telangana region.
Naidu has alleged that the construction of the barrage by Maharashtra would adversely affect the farmers in Andhra Pradesh’s Telangana region. The dispute between the two states over the barrage is pending before the Supreme Court and the next date for hearing is August 10. Maharashtra refused Naidu permission to visit the barrage on the ground that the matter is subjudice.
Naidu had played the Telugu card, which further irritated Maharashtra politicians. “We are honourable citizens. We are Telugu people who have strong self-respect. We were deceived by Maharashtra Police and illegally detained by them, that too in our territory in total violation of Constitution...we shall lay down our lives, if required,” Naidu had said.