In a midnight operation, Andhra Pradesh CID police arrested TDP MLC Ashok Babu from his residence in Vijayawada in a case of forgery and cheating, sparking strong protest from the main opposition party. The Crime Investigation Department (CID) personnel took him into custody when he returned home from a wedding and shifted him to the CID office in Guntur. He will be produced in a court later in the day in a case registered against him for allegedly submitting false documents that he was a B Com graduate after being posted as an assistant commercial tax officer.
Ashok Babu was a government employee and a leader of employees' association before joining the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in 2019. The same year he was elected to the state Legislative Council on a TDP ticket.
Tension prevailed near the CID office on Friday, February 11, as the police stopped former Minister Devineni Uma and other leaders of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) when they reached there to meet Ashok Babu. There was an argument between the two sides as the police refused to allow them to meet the TDP leader.
Police detained Devineni Uma, K Ravindra, Bucchi Prasad and other TDP leaders and whisked them away. Talking to reporters, Devineni Uma said they suspect that the police used third degree means to torture Ashok Babu. He condemned the manner in which the member of the Legislative Council was arrested. The TDP leader warned ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) leaders that they will have to pay heavy price for this highhandedness.
Ashok Babu's lawyers alleged that they were also not allowed to meet him at the CID office. One of the lawyers said the case against the MLC was already closed and termed his arrest as an act of vendetta.
After YSRCP came to power in 2019, a GST officer and president of Andhra Pradesh Commercial Taxes NGOs Association Meher Kumar had complained to Lokayukta that Ashok Babu had submitted a false document that he was a B Com graduate. The Lokayukta had sought a report from the department.
Last month, the CID registered a case on the basis of a complaint from D Geetha Madhuri, Joint Commissioner, Commercial Taxes. He was booked for forgery and cheating under Sections 477A (falsification of accounts), 465 (punishment for forgery) and 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) of the Indian Penal Code.
Meanwhile, TDP national president and former Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has condemned the arrest of Ashok Babu. Naidu alleged that the state government was targeting the opposition party leaders. A false case was filed solely to arrest Ashok Babu in the name of anomalies in service matters, he alleged.
The TDP chief asked where was the need for making the midnight arrest of Ashok Babu in such a case relating to service matters. Apparently, the YSRCP government was taking revenge against the TDP MLC just because he raised his voice in support of the agitating employees, he said.
Naidu warned that the YSRCP government would have to pay a heavy price for each and every illegality that it was perpetrating on the opposition leaders and the general public. All sections of the people were condemning the tone and tenor of the ruling party administration in the state, he said.