Hyderabad: Tension gripped Hyderabad Sunday as pro-Telangana activists clashed with Andhra Pradesh Police while hundreds of people were reaching the venue of the rally – Necklace Road on the banks of Hussain Sagar lake – to participate in the march for a separate state.
Police burst teargas shells to disperse protestors who tried to remove barricades and advance towards NTR Marg.
Police twice arrested ruling Congress party MPs from Telangana who staged a sit-in in front of the Chief Minister’s Office to protest large-scale arrests of people coming to Hyderabad while a section of state cabinet ministers from the region threatened to quit.
The cancellation of dozens of trains and buses in Telangana region and the arrests of hundreds of protestors reaching the state capital in private vehicles angered the pro-Telangana groups, who alleged that the government was trying to suppress the movement despite giving permission for the march.
Armed personnel from Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) para-military force were deployed at the chief minister’s camp office in Begumpet when the Congress MPs and their supporters reached there again after their release.
They squatted on the road as the police refused them permission to go inside the chief minister’s residence-cum-office to meet him. The eight MPs were bundled into police vehicles and taken away.
Senior minister K. Jana Reddy spoke to Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy over phone to lodge his protest over the government not keeping its word on allowing the peaceful march. He said the time had come for the ministers from the region to decide whether for them the posts were important or Telangana.
Several parts of the city resembled battle zones with police sealing off the routes around the secretariat, the Chief Minister’s Office and other vital high-security areas.
Legislators of opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) were also arrested in front of the assembly building as they blocked the traffic in support of the march.
With fears of protestors targeting vital installations and the properties of people from Andhra and Rayalaseema regions, the police and paramilitary forces sealed off many roads with police chief Dinesh Reddy himself monitoring the situation from a helicopter.
Osmania University, the nerve centre of the movement for separate state, turned into a battle zone with students clashing with police. Students wanted to take out a rally, but were stopped by police at the main gate of the campus.
Raising slogans of ‘Jai Telangana’, the students removed barricades and pelted stones at the police personnel. Although police fired teargas shells, hundreds of students were still present on the campus, determined to take out a rally.
Police said that permission was given only for the march at the Necklace Road and that they would not allow any other rally.
Telangana protagonists from various parts of Hyderabad and neighbouring districts started reaching the venue on the bank of Hussain Sagar lake in the heart of the city since Sunday morning. Protestors were trying to take out rallies to reach the Necklace Road.
There was also tension at Secunderabad Clock Tower as leaders and activists of CPI-ML New Democracy were prevented by police from taking out a rally.
The Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC), Telangana Rashtra Samithi, the Bharatiya Janata Party, and various organisations of students, employees and lawyers also planned to take out rallies from various places in the city to join the main march at the Necklace Road.
JAC convenor M. Kodandaram and leaders of other parties condemned what they called the government’s conspiracy to foil the march by cancelling trains and buses from various parts of Telangana to Hyderabad.
They alleged that hundreds of people coming to Hyderabad from various districts were arrested by police.
“On one hand the government has given permission for the march but on the other it is resorting to repressive measures,” said Kodandaram.
He said said the repressive measures proved that the government was afraid of the mass movement.
Another Telangana leader and state legislator, N. Janardhana Reddy warned that if the government tried to foil the march, they would disrupt the UN global biodiversity meet opening in the city Monday.
Revolutionary balladeer Gaddar reached Telangana Martyrs’ Memorial at Gun Park and administered a pledge to protestors that they would achieve the goal of separate state. “The arrests can never stop the movement,” he said.