Hyderabad: The movement for a separate state of Telangana took a serious turn on Monday as police and paramilitary forces used force to quell student protests at Osmania University and also beat up journalists.
Rapid Action Force (RAF) and police personnel caned students on the campus to foil their plans to take out a rally to the state assembly as a mark of solidarity with Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief K Chandrasekhara Rao, whose fast-unto-death seeking a separate state entered the ninth day.
Armed security personnel who entered the campus in the morning chased students to a neighbouring locality and attacked them. A police officer said the students were pelting stones.
Student leaders who were on hunger strike also received the blows, as did some journalists covering the protests.
About 15 students and five journalists were injured in the police action, triggering angry reaction from Telangana sympathisers.
Tension prevailed on the campus as hundreds of students of other colleges and lawyers supporting the Telangana movement rushed to the campus after they came to know of the police action.
The incident, which took place on the second day of the two-day Telangana shutdown called by TRS, evoked all-round condemnation.
Demanding action against police officers responsible for the attack, journalists staged a sit-in at the main entrance of the state assembly, whose winter session began on Monday.
Ministers from Telangana also took serious note of the incident, the second in the last one week. Home Minister P. Sabita Indra Reddy offered to quit. Chief Minister K. Rosaiah met her and other ministers to review the situation.
The State Human Rights Commission, which had taken strong exception to similar police action on the campus on November 30, summoned Osmania University Vice Chancellor Tirupati Rao to record his statement.
Twenty students were injured when police had used force on the campus on November 30, a day after TRS chief was arrested near Karimnagar.
With students taking the movement for separate state into their hands, Osmania University has become hub of Telangana sympathisers. Students and teachers supporting the demand for separate state formed a Joint Action Committee (JAC).
The JAC is chalking out future course action in consultation with lawyers and government employees, who are boycotting their duties demanding a separate state.
The JAC took serious note of the police entering the campus despite direction by the State Human Rights Commission not to do so. Since the government has declared a 15-day holiday for all the universities and colleges in the region, university authorities were taking the help of police to evict students from the hostel.
The student protests over last one week revived the memories of the violent agitation for separate state in 1969. More than 300 people, mostly students, were killed in police firing on the protestors at various places in the region, which comprises 10 districts including Hyderabad.