Violence mars Telangana rally in Hyderabad

Last Updated: Mon, Oct 01, 2012 02:38 hrs

Hyderabad: A mega rally to intensify demand for a separate Telangana state turned unruly and violent on Sunday with police using teargas shells, water cannons and batons to control the gathering while many protesters resorted to arson and squatted on the venue by the Hussain Sagar lake beyond the stipulated hours late in the night.

Several vehicles, including those belonging to police and TV channels (OB Vans), were damaged by the protesters.

"We just wanted some restrictions, but they just did not follow them," said Hyderabad police commissioner Anurag Sharma speaking on the standoff since the protest was allowed only from 3 pm to 7 pm.

He said 25 policemen were injured while several of their vehicles were torched.

Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC) convenor M Kodandaram even asked the protesters to not move from the venue till New Delhi agreed to grant a separate Telangana state.

The JAC has also called for a 48-hour shutdown from Monday.

Earlier in the day, pro-Telangana activists clashed with cops in Hyderabad as Necklace Road by the Hussain Sagar in the city turned into a sea of humanity with thousands hitting the road on the day of a big rally for a separate state.

While tension mounted, six ruling Congress MPs and party leader Keshava Rao from the region were detained on Sunday after they protested before the Chief Minister's office even as police fired teargas shells to disperse students of Osmania University trying to break a security cordon.

Ruling Congress MPs and MLAs from Telangana were protesting against their own chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy and slammed the government for making arrests ahead of the rally.

Police also had to teargas students of Osmania University after they tried to bring out a rally in a prohibited zone taking it out from the Art College campus side.

The police charged with batons and fired tear gas shells when the students tried to break the security cordon and take to the Necklace Road, where the march is permitted in only on an one km stretch.

Necklace Road is more than a length of 3 km.

There were also reports of stone pelting between the students and security men and some clashes. Arson was also reported.

The MPs of ruling Congress who are from Telangana also hit the road to protest preventive arrests ahead of the march.

Amid a heavy security arrangement in Hyderabad, a motorcycle rally also started earlier from Osmania University to demand for a separate Telangana state.

Sunday has been chosen by the pro-state groups for a Telangana March though police said there was no permission for rallies in most parts.

Osmania University is the nerve centre of the protest for a separate state so far.

The Sunday rally has been called by the Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC) and since morning tension was palpable in Hyderabad.

At least 15,000 policemen were keeping a watch on the city to avoid possible violent incidents.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy permitted JAC to hold the march under certain conditions.

The government allowed the JAC to conduct the march on Necklace Road on the banks of Hussain Sagar lake from 3 pm to 7 pm.

According to reports, the JAC had earlier planned to organize the march on the Necklace Road and Tank Bund.

The CM had initially refused to give permission for the march on law and order grounds.

The police had also refused to give permission for the march due to Ganesh idol immersion.

According to reports, 190 cinemas and multiplexes in the city will remain closed on Sunday.

Bars and liquor shops will remain close till Monday.

Pertinently, the United Nations conference on biodiversity will commence in the city from Monday.

Police said they would not take any chances for the event and would go all out to ensure that it passed off without any problem.

The year 2011 saw widespread protests for a separate Telangana state that put pressure on the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre to expedite the bifurcation of the state, carving out the Telangana region with Andhra Pradesh's current capital Hyderabad as its main city.

The Telangana region, which merged with Andhra Pradesh in 1956 against the wishes of many locals, comprises of 10 districts - Adilabad, Hyderabad, Khammam, Karimnagar, Mahbubnagar, Medak, Nalgonda, Nizamabad, Rangareddy, and Warangal.

As the movement to divide the state gained momentum, politicians from coastal Andhra Pradesh and Rayalaseema regions want the state of 85 million people to remain unified, and especially oppose tearing out the IT-hub city Hyderabad that would affect the state's economy.

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