Former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and his son Nara Lokesh were put under house arrest on Wednesday morning ahead of a planned protest rally in Guntur district, PTI reported. The Telugu Desam Party’s rally was called to protest against alleged attacks by workers of the ruling YSR Congress Party. The attacks had allegedly forced hundreds of families to flee villages.
Naidu wanted to lead people belonging to Palnadu region of the district to a village called Atmakur. The “Chalo Atmakur” rally was expected to see the participation of members of families that had fled their villages. Several families have recently arrived at the Telugu Desam Party headquarters in Guntur, claiming they were forced to flee, The Indian Express reported.
He alleged that the government was violating fundamental human rights, according to ANI. “I am warning the government,” Naidu said. “I am warning police also. You cannot play this type of politics. You cannot control us by arresting. Whenever they allow me, I’ll continue ‘Chalo Atmakur’ rally,” he added.
“I have planned to go to Atmakur to drop the villagers who were driven out by YSRC men and police back in their village,” Naidu was quoted as saying by PTI. “This is not an agitation but solidarity with the people who are victims of political factionism.”
Naidu said that in the last 100 days there were more than 500 incidents of attacks against TDP workers. “You cannot play this kind of politics,” he said, according to The Indian Express. “The government has arrested all TDP leaders and workers..either house arrest or police arrest. But as soon as I can, I will go to Atmakur.”
His son called the house arrest a murder of democracy. “The ruling party is trying to strangulate our party across Andhra Pradesh,” Lokesh said. “We were doing our activities in a democratic manner but our entire leadership was put under house arrest. This is dictatorship… TDP leaders and workers are being harassed. YSRCP MLAs are openly threatening us, saying the police are with them.”
The YSR Congress Party also called a counter-rally. However, police denied permission to both parties and imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code in the Palnadu region. The section prohibits the assembly of four or more people. A large police force was deployed in Atmakur and Palnadu.
Former minister and Telugu Desam Party leader Bhuma Akhila Priya was taken into preventive detention at Novotel hotel in Vijayawada, while former MLA Tangirala Sowmya was put under house arrest in Nandigama town of Krishna district, ANI reported. Priya and her supporters were protesting in front of Sowmya’s house.
Lokesh told ANI that the party was being stopped in an undemocratic way. “This is dictatorship,” he said. “TDP leaders and workers are being harassed. YSRCP MLAs are openly threatening us, saying police is with them. The ruling party is trying to strangulate our party. We were doing our activities in a democratic manner but our entire leadership was put under house arrest. This is the murder of democracy.”
The Telugu Desam Party has accused the police of inaction and not filing first information reports of the clashes between its workers and those of YSR Congress Party, The Indian Express reported. It also alleged that eight of its workers were killed in clashes over the last four months, since the Jaganmohan Reddy-led YSR Congress Party government came to power.
“This rally is to highlight the atrocities committed by YSR Congress Party leaders and their cadre on Telugu Desam Party activists and common people,” Naidu had said on Tuesday. “It is to protect democracy and human rights of ordinary people who are living under the fear of the YSR Congress Party leadership.”
Naidu had also set up a rehabilitation centre at the party’s headquarters in Guntur, to provide relief and legal assistance to victims. He had said: “I have planned to go to Atmakur to drop the villagers who were driven out by YSRCP men and police back in their village. This is not an agitation but solidarity with the people who are victims of political factionalism.”
However, state Home Minister M Sucharita said the government will not allow Telugu Desam Party leaders to disturb peace. “Action would be taken against anyone trying to create a law and order situation,” she said.
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