Amaravati, Jan 5 (PTI) NIA officials arrived in Visakhapatnam Saturday to take up the investigation into the knife attack on YSR Congress chief Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy in October last year, as the central agency probe sparked a fresh round of verbal duel between the main opposition party and ruling TDP in Andhra Pradesh.

In the absence of either a court order or a written directive from the state government, the Visakhapatnam city police allegedly refused to hand over the probe to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), top police sources here said.

The NIA, based in Hyderabad, had filed an FIR in the case on January 1.

A NIA inspector arrived in Visakhapatnam Saturday and approached the Special Investigation Team of the Visakhapatnam city police for details related to the case, the sources said.

The inspector also reportedly sought logistics support but the SIT allegedly refused to oblige, they said.

“The NIA came with only a circular issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, that the case has been handed over to it for investigation.

There is neither an order of the High Court nor an order from the state government in this regard. As such we cant give away any records of the case,” a top police official said.

The main accused in the case Srinivasa Rao is currently in judicial custody in Visakhapatnam jail.

Reddy, the Leader of the Opposition in Andhra Pradesh assembly, escaped with a “deep” cut on his left shoulder in the attack by Rao, who had approached him when he was leaving the VIP lounge to board a flight to Hyderabad and requested for a ‘selfie’.

As an unsuspecting Reddy posed for the picture, the man pulled out a small knife generally used in cockfights and plunged it into his left shoulder.

He was overpowered by the CISF personnel guarding the airport and later arrested by police soon after the attack, which drew strong political reactions.

The YSRC had claimed that the cafeteria where the assailant was employed was owned by ruling Telugu Desam Party leader Harshavardhan, who was aspiring to contest the next assembly election from the district.

The opposition party had demanded a “third party inquiry by a Central government agency” into the attack.

A top police official had said on Wednesday that the attack had been carried out by the accused for becoming ‘famous’ and there was no conspiracy.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, addressing a public meeting in Srikakulam district Saturday, said handing over of the case to the NIA proved the Centre’s “highhandedness.”

When the accused himself claimed he attacked Reddy only to create sympathy for the latter and when the state police is conducting a probe, where is the need for handing over the case to the NIA, Naidu asked.

Taking strong exception to his remarks, YSRC MLA R K Roja wanted to know why Naidu was reluctant to hand over the case to the NIA.

When the case related to the killing of MLA Kidari Sarveswara Rao could be entrusted to the NIA, why could not the same be done in Reddy’s case, she asked.

Rao and former legislator Siveri Soma were shot dead, allegedly by CPI (Maoist), in September last year at Lippitiputta village when they went there to take part in a ‘grama darsini’ (village visit) programme.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.