Hyderabad: Hyderabad is under police siege as Seemandhra employees are set to hold 'save Andhra Pradesh' meeting amid tight security later on Saturday during a shutdown in Telangana, which brought normal life to halt.
The city is on the edge as hundreds of policemen and personnel from paramilitary forces have been deployed in view of the threats by some Telangana groups to disrupt the meeting being organized by Andhra Pradesh Non-Gazetted Officers (APNGOs) Association to oppose proposed bifurcation of the state.
Accusing the state government of anti-Telangana attitude, Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC) has called for 24-hour shutdown, which began on Friday midnight. The state-owned Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) buses went off the roads in Hyderabad and nine other districts of Telangana. Educational institutions, shops and business establishments were closed.
TJAC is protesting the police permission for the APNGOs meeting and denial of the same to it and other groups for peace rallies. Osmania University Joint Action Committee has threatened to disrupt the meet.
Lal Bahadur Stadium in the heart of the city has turned into a fortress with the police sealing off all routes and allowing only government employees from Seemandhra (Rayalaseema and Andhra). Barricades have been erected about two km radius from the stadium.
More than 5,000 policemen and paramilitary forces personnel have been deployed as part of the massive security around the stadium. The police have also imposed traffic restrictions at several points in the core area of the city.
Tension prevailed at Nizam College near the stadium as police arrested dozens of students, reportedly planning a protest against the meeting. Police entered the college premises and removed several students from the hostel. Students pelted stones on police, who retaliated with baton charge.
Tension also prevailed late on Friday night at few places in Nalgonda district when pro-Telangana activists allegedly pelted stones on buses bringing Seemandhra employees to Hyderabad.
Police and paramilitary forces were deployed on Vijayawada-Hyderabad and Kurnool-Hyderabad roads to provide security to employees coming to the state capital in buses, cars and other private vehicles. Police set up 16 check posts at the entry points into the city and were checking the vehicles.
Hyderabad police commissioner Anurag Sharma said only Seemandhra employees carrying identity cards would be allowed into the stadium. He warned that police would deal firmly with anybody trying to take law into his hands.
Thousands of employees from 13 districts of Rayalaseema are coming to Hyderabad by trains and buses for the meeting, the first show of strength in by those opposing state's division. Seemandhra employees working in government offices in Hyderabad would also attend the meet.
APNGOs expect a turnout of one lakh employees in Seemandhra, where over four lakh employees and two lakh teachers are on indefinite strike to demand the centre to withdraw its decision to carve out separate Telangana state.
APNGOs president P Ashok Babu said the meeting would be held peacefully despite the provocation by Telangana groups. "Through this meeting we want to tell people why the state should be kept united," he said.