ANDHRA PRADESH

Goud rejects critics' demand for resignation

HYDERABAD Oct. 13. The Minister for Home, T. Devender Goud, who came under heavy flak from Telugu Desam leaders and others demanding his resignation, is understood to have given a spirited reply to the criticism and rallied solidly behind the beleaguered police officers.

Sources said the matter figured prominently at today's Cabinet meeting where the PW attempt on the life of the Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, and related security issues also came up for discussion.

Mr. Goud is reported to have taken strong exception to views reportedly aired by some of his ministerial colleagues that he should quit owning moral responsibility for the "serious security lapse." He also referred to the demand for resignation of the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister in this context.

Stung by what he perceived as `uninformed' criticism, Mr. Goud even offered to show records to his Cabinet colleagues, if they so desired, about the earlier attempts by the PW targeting Ministers and the Chief Minister and how they were successfully foiled "without our knowledge" by the alert police. He was sore that some Ministers talked without full information.. Mr. Goud was specific about an incident when the police averted an attack on Mr. Naidu during a ritual in connection with Sriramanavami celebrations at Bhadrachalam.

He was all praise for the SPs and DIGs who worked tirelessly, risking their lives, to protect VIPs.

The Chief Minister, who intervened during the debate, said he was more pained by such demands than the physical suffering he had been undergoing.

The Cabinet adopted a resolution condemning the PW act. The Ministers wished him good health and appealed to him not to ignore medical advice. Reiterating that it was a rebirth for him, Mr. Naidu appealed to the Cabinet to rededicate itself to the cause of people on the occasion. He wanted every Minister to `change' his style of functioning and he was himself in the process of changing.

Giving a blow-by-blow account of the incident, Mr. Naidu said the explosives planted by naxalites weighed two tonnes. Only half the quantity exploded and the remaining half did not go off because of poor strength of the battery. A discharged one was used for the purpose and even the impact of the flash was insufficient.

Mr. Naidu said of the 50 per cent of explosives which went off only ten per cent actually hit the car and even they did not come in contact with the main body of the vehicle. There was no question of survival of the occupants if the entire material had hit the car.

Discussing the restrictions of the equipment to detect explosives, Mr. Naidu said the tools could now smell up to six inches under the surface but the extremists had hidden the material at a distance of nine inches. He said the naxalites were updating their scientific approaches.

He talked about the need to modernise security measures like in Israel which met the threat of extremism despite all its limitations. The police had mastered the art of meeting the naxalites gun-for-gun but was yet to deal with the menace of landmines. He said the Greyhounds force would be strengthened and latest technologies adopted in security measures. A Cabinet Sub-Committee would look into the security lapses and suggest measures to overcome them.

The Commercial Taxes Minister, K. Vijayarama Rao, a former IPS officer, favoured a change in the strategy of the police to take the naxalites head on instead of reacting to their acts of violence.

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