Two men were taken into preventive custody by the Tadepalli police on Friday for flying a drone over Chandrababu Naidu’s residence in Undavalli. According to the Tadepalli police, Telugu Desam Party workers had restrained the men, citing a security threat to the former Chief Minister. As tension prevailed outside Naidu’s residence, the Tadepalli police intervened and took the two drone operators into custody.
“Irrigation Department officials arrived to clarify that they had employed the drone operators to assess how far the building has become inundated with water due to floods in the Krishna river. But the party workers are calling it a security threat and making it an issue,” a constable from Tadepalli police station said.
Irrigation Minister Anil Kumar Yadav clarified in a statement on Friday that due to heavy inflows to Prakasam Barrage and rising water levels, drones are being used by the Irrigation Department to assess the flood situation in the area for the past three days. Clarifying that drones have been used with permissions and instructions from the irrigation department, Anil Kumar also insinuated that Naidu had been using sandbags to prevent water from entering his residence, and that Naidu was anxious to hide the fact that the building was inundated.
Naidu’s residence at Amaravati had received a demolition notice from the YSRCP-led state government earlier in June, as portions of the luxury villa on the banks of Krishna river were constructed allegedly in violation of various environmental laws. All surrounding structures had also received notices from the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (AP CRDA). The building was constructed by the Lingamaneni group, a construction firm with close ties to Naidu.
TDP workers reportedly staged a dharna on Riverbank Road, alleging that police were backing the drone operators. Speaking to local media outlets near Naidu’s residence, TDP leader TD Janardhan said, “This morning, two persons have flown drones over the residence of the opposition leader, who has Z plus security, without prior permission, and have taken photos. We received information and came here to restrain them and question them. The police have come here and detained them in a ploy to let them go. We’d like to know who these people are and whether they have permissions.”
Naidu’s son Nara Lokesh also tweeted suggesting that Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy had created a threat to Naidu’s life.
“@ysjagan. Did you hand over a plan to your people to create a life threat to Chandrababu Naidu while leaving for America? Why were drones flown without permission over an ex-CM’s residence who has Z plus category security? What’s in the box along with the drones? Why did they mention your name? #CBNSafetyAtRisk”
.@ysjagan గారూ! అమెరికాకు వెళ్తూ చంద్రబాబుగారికి ప్రాణహాని కలిగించమని మీ వాళ్ళకు ప్లాన్ ఇచ్చి వెళ్ళారా? జెడ్ ప్లస్ క్యాటగిరీ భద్రత కలిగిన మాజీ ముఖ్యమంత్రి ఇంటిపై అనుమతి లేకుండా డ్రోన్లు ఎందుకు ఎగిరాయి? డ్రోన్ తో ఉన్న బాక్సులో ఏముంది? వాళ్ళు మీ పేరెందుకు చెప్పారు?#CBNSafetyAtRisk pic.twitter.com/vbLEntCUpn— Lokesh Nara (@naralokesh) August 16, 2019
TDP Youth Wing president Devineni Avinash told local media persons that the drone operators were about to leave on their bikes when the workers caught them and held them. “We caught them first, then the CI took them and put them in the jeep,” he said. The workers were seen banging on the windows of the vehicle, demanding that the detained men explain themselves. Avinash also tweeted demanding that the persons responsible for the use of drones must be arrested.