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CBI arrests Jagan in disproportionate assets case, Andhra on high alert

HYDERABAD: After three days and more than 24 hours of questioning, the CBI on Sunday evening arrested Jaganmohan Reddy on the charges of having entered into conspiracy, committing fraud, falsifying books of accounts and resorting to corrupt practices. The CBI has been investigating what is called the Jagan assets case for the past few months after a direction from the AP high court. This direction came in response to a PIL filed before the court.

The arrest at 7:20 pm came after Jagan was subjected to questioning for almost 9 hours by the CBI on the third consecutive day at its make-shift office at Dilkusha Guest House next to the Raj Bhavan. CBI sources indicated that Jagan’s replies on the investments into his companies including Jagati Publications were not convincing and that he had continually stonewalled queries. He was also arrested for possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income, the sources added. Jagan would be produced before the CBI court on Monday where he was any way scheduled to appear as summons had been served on him earlier. The CBI will ask for his custody pleading that Jagan was less than cooperative.

Immediately after the arrest, Jagan through his aides appealed to his party workers to remain calm even as a state-wide bandh has been called for Monday in protest against the arrest. Jagan told his supporters that the matter would be fought legally and that he was confident of a positive outcome.

Tension in Seemandhra, bus services suspended 

Tension gripped Andhra and Rayalaseema regions following YSR Congress Party chief Jaganmohan Reddy’s arrest by the CBI on Sunday night. Fearing backlash from Jagan followers and party workers, the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (ASPRTC) pulled off services in several districts, while police went on a high alert two-and-a-half hours before the arrest of Jagan and beefed up security across cities and towns.

Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC were imposed in several places. At some places, YSR Congress leaders and workers were taken into preventive custody.

Meanwhile, Jagan supporters tried to set a mobile tower of a private telecom major on fire at Nayaknagar in Anantapur. Irate workers also attacked the vehicle of Congress leader Lakshminarayana in Rayadurgam in Anantapur. At Kothapallimitta in Chittoor district, YSRCP activists destroyed streetlights. The angry activists tried to set an RTC bus on fire in Rajahmundry but police foiled their bid, while another bus was stoned. It was a lucky escape for 41 passengers travelling in an RTC when the driver sped the vehicle away after two YSRCP activists poured petrol on the bus and tried to set it on fire in Julakallu in Guntur district. In Patamata area in Vijayawada, enraged YSRCP workers pelted stones and damaged a bus. In Kadiri and some areas in Anantapur, a curfew-like situation prevailed.

Hyderabad turns into a garrison

Speculation over Jagan’s imminent arrest was rife from Sunday late afternoon and the visibly heavy police presence at several areas in the city only confirmed what was in store for the day. Following the announcement of Jagan’s arrest, the city turned tense. The entire Hyderabad police force was on the streets and patrolling vehicles were seen doing rounds of sensitive areas.

As soon as the arrest was confirmed, shopkeepers in many places downed shutters. At several areas, cable TV operations were halted triggering further panic and confusion among citizens. The Saifabad police picked up 11 YSR Congress activists moving suspiciously in Khairatabad. The Jeedimetla police had earlier picked up several YSR Congress activists in the morning.

Armed police pickets were put up at Sakshi’s rival publications ‘Eenadu’ and ‘Andhra Jyothi’ offices, Ramoji Film City, TDP, Congress party offices, Heritage outlets (run by Chandrababu Naidu’s wife), MLA quarters, former minister Shankar Rao’s residence in Musheerabad (he had filed the PIL against Jagan) and the CM’s camp office in Begumpet.

As news channels began flashing images of heavy police presence in the streets, citizens, who had got out of their homes to enjoy the weekend started rushing back home with worried family members buzzing them. “I went out with my wife to Gandipet. But my father called me up and asked me to return home quickly saying there might be trouble in the city,” Ch Vamsi Krishna, a business consultant and resident of Tallagadda, told TOI. The tension was so palpable that many citizens forgot that the IPL cricket final was slated for Sunday evening. Opinion was divided among citizens about Jagan’s arrest. Though many felt that “the arrest was coming,” others said that the “timing was suspect because it was clearly due to political reasons.” Some wanted to know why the CBI waited for so many weeks to nab him. “There is no doubt that he is not lily white innocent. Everybody knew it for years, but he has been picked up as Congress is in jeopardy,” said A A Rao, a senior citizen.

Earlier at around 3 pm, Hyderabad police commissioner Anurag Sharma directed all senior officers to be alert. At the same time, all district SPs got directions from the DGP’s office to stay on high alert. At around 5 pm, CBI sources confirmed that Jagan ‘might’ be arrested in the next few hours.

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