Seemandhra seethes with anger over state's division
The coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions erupted in fury Wednesday, a day after the United Progressive Alliance coordination committee agreed to the division of Andhra Pradesh and the formation of a separate Telangana state.
The politicians in the two regions, however, appear to have reconciled to the fact as unlike Tuesday, when one MP and four state legislators had announced their resignations, no public representative quit Wednesday.
Congress party leaders from the two regions held a meeting with Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy to discuss their future course of action but differences among them were visible. Some state ministers went on record that resignations will serve no purpose.
Ministers and legislators from Rayalaseema gave a new twist by demanding that capital of 'Rayala Andhra' (Andhra Pradesh) should be built in their region and they should also get due share of river waters.
Even the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu has accepted the reality of two states. In his first reaction to the decision, he said there was nothing wrong in having two states but the Telugu-speaking people should remain united.
The former chief minister demanded that the centre build a new city at par with Hyderabad to be the capital of Andhra Pradesh.
Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), a key political force in Hyderabad, which had opposed the state's division, said it would be active in both the state for protection of the rights of minorities.
Tension prevailed in Anantapur town of Rayalaseema as protestors, opposing the state's division, ransacked an office of the Congress and set afire the statues of former prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.
One of the statues was demolished.
Paramilitary force and police used force and fired teargas shells to disperse protestors who attacked government and private property and pelted stones on security personnel.
A man attempted self-immolation in Anantapur. Policemen doused the fire and took him to a hospital, where his condition was stated to be critical.
Protests rocked both the regions as the shutdown called by Samaikya Andhra Joint Action Committee (JAC) evoked near total response in all major towns.
Opposing the division of the state, students and activists of various groups took to the streets.
Road transport came to a standstill while shops, business establishments and educational institutions remained closed in the two regions, usually referred to as Seemandhra.
Effigies of Congress president Sonia Gandhi were burnt during the protests. The protestors raised slogans of 'Jai Samaikya Andhra' and squatted on the roads. They also demanded the resignation of public representatives, irrespective of their party affiliations.
The protestors alleged that the Congress, which leads the UPA, took a "unilateral" decision to divide the state, and demanded the resignation of all public representatives to mount pressure on the party to withdraw the decision.
Buses of the state-owned Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) could not come out of the depots as protestors staged sit-ins at all nine districts of coastal Andhra and four of Rayalaseema.
The shutdown hit normal life in Visakhapatnam, Vijayanagaram, Eluru, Kakinada, Vijayawada, Guntur, Nellore, Ongole, Chittoor, Tirupati, Anantapur, Kadapa, Kurnool and other towns.
The protestors blocked traffic on national and state highways at some places.
Hundreds of police and paramilitary personnel have been deployed in the two regions
to maintain law and order.
Protesting state's division, a home guard in Vijayanagaram district allegedly
Tension also prevailed at the Andhra University in Visakhapatnam where police baton
charged the students trying to take out a rally. Lawyers also staged protests in the port city.
Interestingly, leaders of political parties also participated in the protests. In
Guntur, local Congress legislator joined a rally to demand the Telangana decision be reversed.
Telugu Desam Party leaders participated in road blockade in Eluru town in West Godavari district. The protestors also laid siege to the house of union Textiles Minister K. Sambasiva Rao to demand his resignation.
(Posted on 31-07-2013)