Hyderabad: After clashing with security forces during the day, Telangana protesters stayed put at Necklace Road here Sunday night, vowing not to leave unless the central government declares a roadmap for a separate Telangana state.
With the number of protesters coming down due to heavy rain, police were also not making any attempts to evict them well past the 7 p.m. deadline set for them to leave.
Hyderabad Police Commissioner Anurag Sharma told reporters that there were 2,000-3,000 people and that they were peaceful. "The intensity has come down. We will wait till they are satisfied," said the city police chief.
After a day of clashes and violent protests, an uneasy clam prevailed around Hussain Sagar lake. However, police continued a tight vigil at the secretariat and other high security areas.
The police commissioner claimed that there were some Left-wing extremists among the protesters, who resorted to violence. He said police exercised utmost restraint and a conscious decision was taken not to open fire.
He blamed the protesters for the violence and said police used teargas shells only after they came under attack. He said 25 policemen, including an officer, were injured. The protesters also damaged 15 vehicles.
Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy Sunday night took stock of the situation with Home Minister Sabita Indra Reddy and Director General of Police Dinesh Reddy and reviewed the security arrangements for a UN conference on biodiversity beginning here Monday.
Telangana leader N. Janardhana Reddy has threatened to disrupt the UN global biodiversity meet.
Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC) convenor M. Kodandaram and other leaders said the protest would continue till the central government agrees to the demand for a separate state.
Police had given permission for the march from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Earlier, protesters set afire two police and four media vehicles and tried to attack two restaurants and a multiplex. People from the city and neighbouring districts converged on Necklace Road as tension mounted due to clashes in surrounding areas.
Holding flags of their respective parties and groups, the protesters squatted on the Buddha Bhavan-P.V. Ghat stretch. Hundreds of youngsters occupied the parallel railway track.
Raising slogans of "Jai Telangana" amid the beating of drums and singing songs by Telangana artists, men, women and children from various sections asked the central government to make Telangana a separate state.
Leaders of the JAC, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Communist Party of India (CPI) and organisations of students, employees, lawyers, women and trade unions were on the dais.
Youngsters removed barricades and clashed with police to advance towards the secretariat and other high-security areas. Police fired tear gas shells in at least three places to disperse protesters who tried to remove barricades.
Police twice arrested MPs from the ruling Congress from Telangana who staged a sit-in outside the chief minister's office to protest large-scale arrests of people coming to Hyderabad.
A section of state ministers from the region threatened to quit.
Several parts of the city resembled battle zones, with police sealing off the routes around the secretariat, the chief minister's office and other high-security areas.
Legislators of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) were also arrested in front of the assembly building as they blocked traffic in support of the march.
Amid fears that properties of people from Andhra and Rayalaseema regions could be attacked, many roads were sealed off. Police chief Dinesh Reddy monitored the situation from a helicopter.
At Osmania University, students pelted stones at police.
JAC convenor M. Kodandaram condemned what he said was a government conspiracy to foil the march by cancelling trains and buses from various parts of Telangana to Hyderabad.