Andhra CM orders probe into former minister's arrest

Hyderabad, Feb 1 (IANS) After widespread criticism of police for the manner in which Congress legislator and former minister Shankar Rao was picked up in a land grab case, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy Friday ordered a high-level probe.

The chief minister directed Director General of Police V. Dinesh Reddy to hold an inquiry by Additional Director General of Police Krishna Prasad.

The chief minister issued orders after Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajanarasimha and other ministers called on him and voiced their unhappiness over the way police behaved with the Dalit leader.

The police behaviour evoked strong condemnation not just from ministers but also several Dalit groups, some of whom approached state human rights commission seeking a probe.

Activists of Mala Mahanadu, a Dalit group, tried to lay siege to the state secretariat to protest Rao's arrest. Police arrested them.

Rao's brother-in-law and Congress MP G. Vivek called on Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde in New Delhi to complain against the attitude of the state government.

Vivek alleged that the chief minister was targeting Rao as he had moved a court seeking probe against him in the red sandalwood (red sanders) scam.

Meanwhile, a police official in Hyderabad clarified that Shankar Rao did not want to change the clothes and accompanied policemen in lungi. Rao was picked up from his residence here Thursday evening amid high drama.

He was taken to the government-run Gandhi Hospital after he complained of chest pain at Neredmet police station in Secunderabad.

As the ministers and Dalit groups strongly condemned the manner in which Rao was picked up, police officials clarified that he was not arrested and was free to go anywhere from the hospital.

Rao's family members Thursday night shifted him to a corporate hospital. Doctors Friday said the condition of 65-year-old Rao was stable but he would remain under observation for 24 hours.

According to them, Rao might have suffered brain damage due to hypertension and high blood pressure.

Rao's father-in-law and former union minister G. Venkatswamy, revolutionary balladeer Gaddar and several others rushed to the hospital. They condemned the police action.

Venkatswamy said police misbehaved with Rao and pulled him into a vehicle, not allowing him to even change his clothes.

The controversial leader had undergone bypass surgery in November after he fainted during a protest at the office of the director general of police.

He was protesting against police searching his house. Rao had allegedly gone into hiding in October when police went to his house to pick him up for questioning.

Rao, a member of the state assembly from Secunderabad (Cantonment) in the state capital, is a bitter critic of the chief minister.

He was dropped from the cabinet in January last year after embarrassing the government by filing a petition in the high court seeking a probe into allegations of corruption against Home Minister Sabita Indra Reddy.

Some residents of Greenfield Colony on the city's outskirts had lodged a police complaint against Rao and his brother Dayanand in 2011. Police had booked them for cheating and forgery.

It was on a letter by Rao that the high court had ordered a probe by Central Bureau of Investigation against YSR Congress party leader Jaganmohan Reddy which finally led to Reddy's arrest in May last year.

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