Konaseema continued to be tense for the second consecutive day over the proposed change of its name to Dr BR Ambedkar Konaseema.
Although there were no incidents reported on Wednesday from district centre Amalapuram—where large-scale arson took place on Tuesday—a police vehicle in nearby Ravulapalem town had reportedly got stones thrown at it on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, rioters set ablaze the residences of YSRCP minister Pinipe Viswarupu and ruling party legislator Ponnada Satish. A few vehicles—state as well as private-owned—were torched, while dozens of policemen, including Konaseema SP Subba Reddy, were injured in the stone pelting by the agitated mob.
State Home Minister Taneti Vanitha informed on Wednesday that 46 people were arrested for their involvement in the arson.
Following the violence, Amalapuram was secured by a heavy contingent of police, with two ADGP-level officers, two DIGs and three SPs monitoring the situation. Internet services were suspended in town to curb the spread of rumours and provocative messages.
The renaming move comes in the wake of Dalit organisations and and the ruling party's local legislators demanding that a district must be named after one of the main architects of the Indian Constitution, even as the ruling party legislators demanded the same.The Konaseema Saadhana Samiti and other caste groups, however, demanded that the name Konaseema be retained.
As soon as it was announced, the move of renaming the newly carved district had met with heavy resistance with fierce clashes breaking out in Amalapuram town. Konaseema was one of the 13 new districts of the state virtually inaugurated by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy, on April 4.
Konaseema was carved out as a new district from the erstwhile East Godavari district, which is part of the Amalapuram (Scheduled Caste-reserved) Lok Sabha constituency. The region has a considerable Dalit population, and the Amalapuram Assembly constituency is represented by P Viswarup, the state transport minister.
According to the chief minister, the number of districts in the state were doubled so that there would be better administration and the smaller districts would ensure inclusive development.
Aftermath of the move
After the violence and arson, the opposition Telugu Desam Party accused the YSRCP government of law-and-order failure, and alleged that the ruling party wanted to divert attention by getting rioters to burn down houses of their own leaders. The TDP claimed that the state’s people were growing resentful of CM Jaganmohan Reddy and his policies.
TDP state president K Atchannaidu said: “Reddy-led government and his party orchestrated the Konaseema violence so as to divert the mounting public attention from the sensational murder of a Dalit youth in Kakinada.”
YSRCP MLC Ananta Uday Bhaskar was arrested on Monday for killing his former driver in the neighbouring Kakinada.
Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan accused the YSRCP leadership of inciting tensions between caste groups for their benefit. “Why was BR Ambedkar's name not given to the district when it was formed? Why not consider naming the CM’s home district Kadapa after Ambedkar?” Kalyan questioned, and demanded that a public referendum should be conducted in Konaseema on the proposed change.
“Ruling party conspiracy”
Atchannaidu told reporters that “YSRCP activist Anyam Sai was responsible for Amalapuram violence.”
“There are photos of Sai hugging (YSRCP general secretary) Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy and felicitating minister Pinipe. Yet, the home and other ministers made baseless allegations that the TDP had triggered the tensions.”
The TDP leader demanded the government explain why the police could not stop the arsonists from setting fire to YSRCP leaders’ houses when they had prior information to make an evacuation happen.
“The circumstantial evidence amply proves the undeniable conspiracy hatched by the CM and his party men. Even fire engines were not called when the houses were burning,” Atchannaidu alleged.