Hyderabad, Sept. 27: After a long lull, the renewed challenge of the Telengana agitation has driven the Andhra Pradesh government to turn Hyderabad into a fortress ahead of the weekend and clamp prohibitory orders even inside the state secretariat from this evening.
A threatened “million march” to Hyderabad by statehood agitators on Sunday, September 30, has prompted the police to ask the railways to suspend several local trains. Over 25 extra check posts have been set up to seal the city from all sides.
Police intelligence believe the marchers plan to attack the homes and business properties of coastal Andhra leaders, additional director-general of police (law and order) S.A. Huda said.
The police commissioner put up a public notice declaring the imposition of Section 144 on the secretariat premises till October 18 — meaning all meetings, dharnas and rallies are banned there. Even visitors have been banned from Friday to Sunday.
Employees from Telangana had paralysed the government for over three months in 2010 by resorting to strikes and daily dharnas inside the secretariat. The government lost a huge sum in revenues as the treasury and stamps department employees joined the strike.
The Telangana Joint Action Committee, Telangana Rashtra Samiti and BJP have called Sunday’s march, which has the support of the Congress’s MPs and MLAs from Telangana too. Coastal Andhra-based political leaders are opposing it tooth and nail.
The marchers are to gather on the Tank Bund and Necklace Road near the secretariat to protest the Centre’s delay in announcing statehood. During a previous “million march” on April 10, 2010, Telangana activists had vandalised statues on the Tank Bund.
Over 1,000 activists have been arrested in the Telangana districts, and the police plan to arrest key BJP and Telangana Rashtra Samiti MLAs who are organising the march.
“We want to stage a peaceful march but by refusing permission, the government is driving us into being rigid,” said M. Kodandaram, chairman of the Joint Action Committee.
Huda said the government had refused permission because the march would disturb the Ganesh immersion processions and a global bio-diversity meeting in Hyderabad.
The agitators plan to take their demonstration before the bio-diversity delegates, but chief minister Kiran Reddy has appealed to them to postpone the march till October and “spare the government embarrassment before global delegates”.
The Joint Action Committee and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti have demanded an announcement of the process of statehood creation --- such as a call for an all-party meeting --- if they have to postpone their programme. But Congress leaders dealing with the issue in Delhi --- Ghulam Nabi Azad and Vayalar Ravi --- have rejected the demand.
“The UPA is neck deep in many national issues and Telangana is not our priority,” Ravi said on Tuesday, inviting protests by even Congress lawmakers from Telangana.
The Osmania University campus, the hotbed of the statehood agitation in 2009 and 2010, simmered again today. The police stopped a students’ march from the Arts College to the Telangana martyrs’ memorial near the Assembly, firing tear gas and launching a baton-charge to contain the students within the campus.
On September 17, the arts students had observed a “Telangana Day” on the campus, which led to a baton-charge and injuries to several students.