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Last Updated:  Friday, 4 April, 2003, 12:18 GMT 13:18 UK
Indian politician charged with terror
By Omer Farooq
BBC correspondent in Hyderabad

Police in India have charged a politician and her husband under the provisions of a stringent anti-terrorism law.

Victim of PWG
The People's War Group is responsible for many attacks
Konda Surekha, state opposition leader in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh has been charged along with her husband for having links with an outlawed left-wing group.

They are also accused of conspiring to kill a law-maker from the state's governing party.

Officials took the action after the couple were allegedly in contact with the banned People's War Group (PWG) over plans to kill a member of the ruling party.

The state home minister, T Devender Goud defended his government's decision by saying that the Congress leader and her husband had links with the PWG.

He told the BBC the decision to charge them according to the country's Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota) was made on the basis of a statement given by another person already in police custody - Mahipal Reddy.

First time

In his confession, Mr Reddy is reported to have said the Congress leader and her husband were in touch with the PWG to kill a ruling Telugu Desham Party legislator.

This is the first time a state political leader has been charged under the law, which is the subject of petitions filed against it in the Supreme Court.

But the couple, who have not been arrested, told the BBC they were victims of a political vendetta led by the state's governing party.

They also alleged that a law-maker from the state's governing party was trying to remove them from active politics because they have apparently been exposing what they say are his corrupt practices.

They described the charges as unfair and unjustified and the Congress legislator said she will do what her state party leadership thinks is right.

So far, 22 people have been booked under the law in Andhra Pradesh, with most being charged for having links with the PWG.

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