TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu and 74 party lawmakers, who were arrested by Maharashtra Police at Dharmabad, on Saturday refused to accept bail conditions while a bandh was observed in the town in protest against the "adamant" stand of the Andhra leaders.
The bandh call was given by the 'Babhli Bachao Kriti Samiti' led by Congress MP from Nanded, Bhaskarrao Patil Khatgaonkar, to protest Naidu's "adamant stance over Babhli barrage", the Samiti said.
Shops remained closed and roads in this tehsil town, 12 km from Andhra border, wore a deserted look. The only presence was that of the around 1,000 policemen who have been deployed to ensure peace during Naidu's visit.
After failing to obtain the arrested TDP leaders' signatures on blank bond papers, Maharashtra Police finally brought the local magistrate to the Industrial Training Institute (ITI) campus – where the arrested lawmakers were lodged – to hear the case.
The magistrate asked the TDP leaders to return to Andhra Pradesh immediately and offered to grant bail.
Initially, a case under Section 151 CrPC was registered against the TDP leaders and later Sections 135, 143 and 188 of IPC were also included, which makes the arrested persons liable even for a jail term.
Chandrababu and others, however, stoutly refused to do so and asserted that they would return only after inspecting the controversial project, which they alleged was illegally built by the Maharashtra government.
"We shall go to jail but not return to Andhra Pradesh without inspecting Babhli and other controversial projects," Chandrababu told the magistrate and added that they would continue the fight against the illegal projects till justice was done.
A TDP spokesman accompanying the delegation said over phone from Dharmabad that Chandrababu and the other MPs and MLAs spent the night in "most horrible conditions" in a dingy room in the ITI building.
"There was no power supply and the room was filled with mosquitoes. There was only one toilet but there was no water. The Maharashtra Police were so harsh that they did not even allow our party workers to bring drinking water for the leaders," the spokesman claimed.
A staffer at the ITI denied the charges, and said that ITI already has AC rooms and police brought in cots and placed them in the principal's cabin and conference hall. Naidu and some TDP MPs spent the night in the AC conference hall.
Despite prohibitory orders in Babhli project premises, Naidu and his activists entered the premises in over 20 cars and jeeps and violated the orders, police said, adding they broke down the barricades in their attempt to enter the project premises.
Naidu demanded that the administration should permit him to see the present situation at the project site. They shouted slogans in Telugu against Maharashtra for "using extra water".