Seemandhra on boil, protests continue for second day
Rayalaseema and Andhra were on the boil with protests and shutdowns continuing for the second day Thursday against the central government's decision to divide Andhra Pradesh to carve out a separate Telangana state.
Shops, business establishments and educational institutions remained closed while buses were off the roads for the second consecutive day in all major towns of Seemandhra, as the two regions are called.
Demanding that the central government reverse its decision and keep the state united, thousands of protestors took to the streets. Sporadic incidents of violence were reported from Kadapa, Anantapur and Kurnool districts, where protestors clashed with the police.
The protestors vandalized statues of late prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi at some places in both the regions. They also burnt tyres on the roads, and effigies of the Congress leaders besides staging road and rail blockades.
They vented their ire at the political leaders, especially of the ruling Congress by laying siege to their houses, demanding their resignations.
Bowing to the pressure, at least three state legislators submitted their resignations while many others decided to quit Thursday evening. Some ministers from Seemandhra have also decided to submit their resignations to Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy.
Raising slogans of 'Jai Samaikya Andhra' or united Andhra, the protestors, who included students, political activists, employees, teachers and lawyers, took out rallies.
Buses of state-owned Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) remained confined to depots in Kadapa, Anantapur, Chittoor and Kurnool districts of Rayalaseema and several parts of coastal Andhra.
Protests were continuing in Anantapur, Kadapa, Kurnool, Tirupati, Chittoor, Nellore, Vijayawada, Guntur, Eluru, Kakinada, Rajahmundry, Visakhapatnam, Vijaynagaram and other towns.
In Vijayawada, employees of Vijayawada Thermal Power Station (VTPS) also joined the protest. The employees' leaders have warned that if the political leaders failed to quit their posts, they would go on strike. The plant meets 40 percent of the state's electricity requirement.
Samaikya Andhra Joint Action Committee (JAC) has called for the shutdown and protests across Seemandhra. JAC leaders said there would be no compromise on united Andhra.
"We are protesting for the safety and the interests of 90 lakh people who live in Hyderabad and other parts of Telangana," said a JAC leader. Leaders and activists of Congress, Telugu Desam Party and YSR Congress Party also joined the protests in various towns.
In Kadapa during a protest by youth leaders of YSR Congress, two youth attempted self immolation but were prevented by police.
Protestors squatted on railway tracks and stopped trains at Pakala in Chittoor district. The rail blockades at Dharmavaram in Anantapur district also affected the movement of trains. Protestors set afire tyres at Tadipatri in the same district.
Tension prevailed for the second day at Anantapur town as thousands of people came on to the streets in an expression of their protest against the state's division.
Kurnool town was also tense after protestors pelted stones at the police, who retaliated with baton charge. In Dhone, protestors set afire a statue of Rajiv Gandhi. Some people pelted stones at the residence of state minister E. Pratap Reddy's house, damaging the window panes.
Police arrested a person at Athili in West Godavari district for damaging the statue of Indira Gandhi.
At Tekali in Srikakulam district, protestors laid siege to the house of central minister Krupa Rani, demanding her resignation.
In Vijayanagaram, police foiled an attempt by the protestors to lay siege to the house of state Congress chief Botsa Satyanarayana, who is also a state minister.