Hyderabad, Oct 15 (IANS) Andhra Pradesh Police Saturday arrested dozens of Telangana leaders including MPs and legislators and hundreds of activists across the region as a three-day rail blockade for a separate state halted almost all train services.
The clashes between police and protesters at some places triggered tension while state and central forces were mobilized in large numbers to protect railway property.
Senior railways and state police officials made an aerial survey of the Telangana region, comprising 10 districts including Hyderabad.
Led by Additional Director General of Government Railway Police V.S.K. Kaumudi, senior officials in a helicopter flew over the railway tracks from Hyderabad to Kazipet to review the situation on the ground.
With the help of high resolution cameras, the police personnel captured the images to identify the protesters on the tracks.
The leaders and activists were either taken into preventive arrests, kept under house arrest or arrested when they were going towards the tracks.
Congress MPs Ponnam Prabhakar, Rajaiah, G. Vivek, Manda Jagannatham, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) MP Vijayshanti, TRS legislators Tarka Rama Rao and Harish Rao were among the leaders arrested by the police.
Unlike in the past when protesters squatted on the tracks throughout the day, cooked food and played games, the large-scale arrests this time helped the police in containing the protests.
Railways cancelled as many as 136 trains in view of the blockade called by Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC) but were operating 20 express and passenger trains within Telangana as scheduled in an attempt to assess the situation.
The railways have also decided to restore a few cancelled trains.
Four trains left Secunderabad railway station since morning while 10 trains reached the station safely early in the day, South Central Railway Chief Public Relations Officer Sambasiva Rao said.
The trains were running with full police security including a pilot engine. State and railway police and central paramilitary forces were deployed at all railway stations.
Sambasiva said 108 MMTS (Multi-Modal Transport System) were running between Hyderabad and Lingampally and Secunderabad and Lingampally. The MMTS trains between Hyderabad and Secunderabad and Secunderabad and Falaknuma were cancelled.
K. Kavita, leader of Telangana Jagruti, a cultural outfit of TRS, became the first leader to be arrested under the Railway Act when she along with others squatted on the railway track at Moula Ali near here.
TRS President K. Chandra Sekhara Rao's son and TRS legislator K. Taraka Rama Rao, along with scores of JAC leaders and activists, were arrested at Sitaphalmandi in Secunderabad when they were going to participate in the 'rail blockade'.
Rama Rao, who was released subsequently, rushed to Home Minister Sabita Indra Reddy's house to lodge a protest. He was arrested again.
The TRS leader warned the government of serious consequences if it continued to use police for committing excesses on people participating in the movement.
The arrests led to strong protest from TRS cadre. Some protesters damaged a bus of state-owned Road Transport Corporation at Tarnaka.
Police also used teargas shells to prevent a group of Osmania University students from rushing towards Tarnaka and Secunderabad railway station.
The state police and the railways have warned protesters against blocking the trains, saying they would be arrested under the Railway Act.
Those arrested under the act may even get life imprisonment, said Director General of Police Dinesh Reddy.
Hyderabad Police Commissioner A.K. Khan said 49 people were arrested and 62 cases booked against them under Railway Act and Indian Penal Code.
The arrested would be produced before the court, he added.
Cyberabad police commissioner Tirumala Rao said 53 people were arrested and booked under Railway Act.