Hyderabad, March 21 (IANS) Police arrested hundreds of pro-Telangana protestors for blocking traffic on the Hyderabad-Bangalore national highway in Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh Thursday.
Over 1,000 protestors were arrested on the outskirts of Hyderabad and neighbouring Mahabubnagar district. Defying ban orders, Telangana supporters came out on the road at several places to enforce a 24-hour-long blockade to demand a separate Telengana state.
The traffic between Kurnool and Hyderabad was badly hit in the morning. The police later cleared the highway by taking activists of various political parties and their leaders into custody.
Normalcy was restored in the afternoon and the state-owned Andhra Pradsh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) resumed its bus services.
Police arrested leaders of various political parties who squatted on the highway in response to 'Sadak Bandh' called by Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC) to urge the central government to immediately carve out a Telangana state.
JAC convenor M. Kodandaram, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) legislators K. Tarakarama Rao, E. Rajender and Harishwar Reddy were among dozens of leaders arrested by the police for staging protests on the highway despite police not giving permission for the same.
Tension prevailed at Alampur, Annaram and Jadcherla in Mahabubnagar district as protestors damaged few trucks and buses following the arrests of their leaders, police said.
Those arrested include leaders of the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The protestors came out on the highway with bullock carts to stop the vehicular traffic. Police had a tough time in controlling them as they squatted on the highway at several points.
Students and lawyers also joined the protests, focusing on Mahabubnagar district to stop vehicles entering Telangana coming from Kurnool district, which is a part of the Rayalaseema region.
Earlier, hundreds of vehicles were stranded at Alampur, about 160 km from Hyderabad, as, raising slogans of "Jai Telangana", the activists of JAC and TRS stopped the traffic.
A senior police officer said 700 people have been arrested in Mahabubnagar district since Thursday morning. Over 6,000 policemen were deployed on the highway. Prohibitory orders banning assembly of five or more persons were also imposed.
Mahabubnagar Superintendent of Police Nagender Kumar said 13 members of the state assembly and two members of council were among those arrested. He said action would be taken against those found involved in attacks on vehicles.
JAC convenor Kodandaram condemned the arrests and said he and other leaders would continue their protests in various police stations.
He accused the government of suppressing a peaceful and democratic protest to demand Telangana state. He claimed that the protest was successful.
The TRS and BJP also staged road blockades at Shamshabad on the outskirts of Hyderabad. TRS leader Harish Rao and Swami Goud were among 400 people arrested by the police. The protestors, including women, cooked food and staged cultural programmes on the road.
Police also arrested 400 BJP activists including senior leader Vidyasagar Rao at Shamshabad for staging a road blockade.
At the Osmania University in Hyderabad, police stopped students trying to take out a rally in support of 'Sadak Bandh'.
The leaders of BJP, CPI and main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) raised the issue of arrests in the state assembly.