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A city court Friday directed police to book 16 ministers from Andhra and Rayalaseema regions for allegedly calling as “anti-national” those fighting for a separate state of Telangana.

A magistrate at Nampally Criminal Court directed Saifabad police to register the case and inform the court by Aug 28 about the action taken in this regard.

The order came on a petition of a lawyer from Telangana, Ranga Rao, who sought action against the ministers.

The lawyer said the magistrate asked the police to register the case against the ministers for defamation and for promoting enmity between different groups. The case will be booked under sections 499, 500 and 153A of the Indian Penal Code.

The ministers, in their representation to the Srikrishna Committee last week, had allegedly termed the demand for a separate Telangana state as “anti-national” and sought that the demand be treated as a cognizable offence.

When asked for reaction to the court order, Endowments Minister G. Venkat Reddy, who led the delegation of ministers, again denied that they described the separate Telangana demand as “anti-national”.

He said the ministers would respond after police register a case against them. “We have not said anything which belittles Telangana or people of Telangana,” said Reddy.

The Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), Telangana Joint Action Committee and various other groups fighting for separate statehood to Telangana have already urged Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan and Chief Minister K.Rosaiah to dismiss the ministers.

The ministers also had to face the ire of their own Congress party leaders in Telangana, who threatened to stop them from moving in the region if they failed to apologise for their remarks.

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