Kapu quota stir leader threatens hunger strike; man ends life

Kapu quota stir leader threatens hunger strike; man ends life
A day after politically influential Kapus unleashed violence in parts of Andhra Pradesh, the man leading the stir today threatened an indefinite fast from Friday for inclusion of the caste in the OBC category, while a person from the the community allegedly killed himself over the quota issue.

Mudragada Padmanabham, the agitation leader, told reporters at his residence in Kirlampudi in East Godavari district after a meeting with community leaders that he and his wife would undertake an indefinite fast from Friday.

Apprehending arrest by authorities, who might try to "disrupt" the agitation, the former Minister declared, "Nothing will deter me from going on fast and I am prepared to continue it even in jail."

Kapus are a politically influential community, particularly in coastal districts. Amid demand for reservation for Kapus, a man allegedly committed suicide in the East Godavari Collectorate building at district headquarters town of Kakinada demanding quotas for the community and special category status for Andhra Pradesh.

Forty-five-year-old C H V Murthy hung himself from a dish antenna at Bennet Club in the Collectorate.

"A letter was found in his pocket which said he is ending his life for non-inclusion of Kapu community in Backward Classes list, as also Central government not according special category status to Andhra Pradesh", Police Inspector (Special Branch), Kakinada, V Srinivas, told PTI by telephone.

Murthy belonged to Kapu community but had no "political background", he said, adding, he was a TV mechanic by profession and a resident of Kakinada.

His suicide comes a day after violence broke out in Tuni in East Godavari district where a public meeting was organised to demand reservation for the community.The meeting, "Kapu Aikya Garjana", was convened by Padmanabham.

After the meeting, thousands of protesters blocked rail and road traffic, torched a train and a police station, besides targeting a number of vehicles. At least 15 policemen were injured in the violence.

President of main opposition YSR Congress Party, Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, said he is in support of the Kapus and sought a "viable way" to be found for providing quotas to them without cutting into the existing reservation for backward classes.

Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu had mentioned in his party's manifesto for the 2014 polls that reservations would be provided to Kapus without affecting the BC quota, besides earmarking Rs 5,000 crore for their welfare, he said.

"When nothing was forthcoming even 20 months after coming to power, the Kapu anger rose like a tide and their resentment was manifested in a very powerful torrent which has shaken the very foundation of the TDP government," Reddy said.

BJP, the ruling partner of TDP in the State, and CPI also supported the demand of Kapus. Suspecting the involvement of anti-social elements in the violence in Kapu quota stir, actor-turned-politician and Janasena Party founder Pavan Kalyan said the TDP Government should have taken precaution to prevent untoward incidents.

"Definitely, anti-social elements alone can do so methodically (burn a full train)," Kalyan, whose support to the TDP-BJP combine was a factor in the success of the alliance in 2014 Assembly elections, told reporters.

Noting that protests can be taken up in a democracy for any just cause, he, however, said there is no justification for violence. The Janasena Party leader said he favoured an amicable solution to the issue through a dialogue.

Kalyan, who belongs to the Kapu community, said he does not fight for one particular caste but stood for national integrity. He asked those leading the agitation to shun violence.

Naidu has said he is committed to reservation for Kapu community and a Judicial Commission has been set up to look at the issue. On the basis on the Commission's report, quota benefits would be extended to the community without exceeding the 50 per cent limit set by the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, situation remained peaceful in violence-hit East Godavari district. "Public life and security are important for us. They (agitators) held a meeting (yesterday) without permission. Despite that, we facilitated the traffic to let people participate in that.

"We have identified many (who indulged in violence). We have video footage. As per phone call data records and through a scientific way, we will ensure punishment (to rioters)," Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) R P Thakur said.

Asked if there is any possibility of arresting Padmanabham, he said: "We are conducting investigation. Let's see. I can't say that so-and-so will be arrested."

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