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AP to set up special court to try ‘call money racket’ cases

Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu today announced setting up of a special court to try the ‘call money racket’ cases, which rocked the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly for the second day today.

The ruling TDP and main Opposition YSR Congress engaged in a heated war of words in the House with opposition leader Y S Jaganmohan Reddy hitting out at the ruling party over the alleged involvement of some TDP MLAs in the racket. His allegations were strongly denied by the ruling party.

More than 50 members of YSR Congress, including Jaganmohan Reddy, were suspended from Assembly in the morning after they staged a protest to press for a debate on ‘call money racket’, stalling proceedings in the House.

The Opposition members were suspended till the conclusion of a debate on Constitution and contribution of Dr B R Ambedkar in its drafting. Some of them were evicted by marshals after they refused to leave the House.

The debate on the issue of Constitution concluded in the afternoon.

‘Call money’ refers to a mode of private lending where loan is made available instantly at borrower’s doorstep but at exorbitant rates of interest and the lender can demand repayment anytime over a call.

As the House took up debate on the racket, Naidu made a statement on the issue.

Noting that the government took a serious note of the racket, he said police conducted raids on private money lenders across the state.

Police have lodged 227 cases against money lenders, who were reportedly collecting exorbitant rate of interest. Of these, five cases involved sexual harassment of borrowers along with charging of high interest rate, Naidu said.

“So far 188 accused have been arrested which include the sympathisers of YSRCP (65), TDP (20), Congress (12), CPI (6), BJP (4), Lok Satta (2), CPM (1) and others 78,” he said.

Observing that a judicial inquiry has already been ordered into the racket, he said no one will be spared.

“We are also going to establish a special court at Vijayawada to try cases under Nirbhaya Act (related to issue of sexual exploitation) and appoint Special Public Prosecutor for speedy disposal of the cases, so that justice is be done to the victims at the earliest,” the Chief Minister noted.
The government would bring in a very stringent law soon

to regulate money lending business, Naidu said.

During the debate, YSR Congress MLA R K Roja, a popular south Indian actress, was suspended from the Assembly for one year over her allegedly objectionable comments on Naidu.

The suspension was announced by Speaker K Sivaprasad Rao after a motion to the effect was moved by Legislative Affairs Minister Y Ramakrishnudu.

TDP MLAs D Narendra and V Anita earlier referred to the remarks made by Roja and sought her suspension from the House.

The Speaker, who announced Roja’s suspension for one year as per the decision of the House, stressed that the sanctity of the legislature and high standards should be maintained.

Talking to reporters later, Roja said she did not use any filthy language and that she was suspended as the ruling TDP could not face her.

The Opposition leader later spoke on the ‘call money racket’. Jaganmohan Reddy, who showed some photographs, referred to allegations that a TDP MLA went abroad with some of the accused in the racket.

Dismissing the allegations, TDP MLA Bode Prasad said some of the photos were “blurred” and that he favoured an inquiry into the issue. The legislator said he is ready to quit politics if the allegations are proved.

Labour Minister K Atchannaidu said photographs does not establish the guilt of an individual as many people take photos with prominent persons.

Any proof can be submitted (to appropriate agencies) to see that the guilty are punished, he said.

A war of words between Jaganmohan Reddy and some other TDP MLAs continued and Naidu reiterated that the government would take “demonstrative action”.

The Speaker then adjourned the House for tomorrow.