AP: Amaravati agitation resembles CAA-NRC protests

AP: Amaravati agitation resembles CAA-NRC protests

Demonstrators during a protest against three capital cities for the state of Andra Pradesh proposed by CM, at Velagapudi in Guntur. (PTI Photo)

A wave of the tri-colour in the protest marches, dissent statements holding up Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Ambedkar portraits, rangolis with withdrawal demands and Section 144 imposition, barbed barricades, allegations of police excesses on peaceful demonstrators. Largely eclipsed by the nationwide anti-CAA and NRC protests, the agitation against the proposed shifting of the Andhra Pradesh capital bears a stark resemblance to the demonstrations against the citizenship amendments.

For 27 days now, since Andhra Pradesh CM Jaganmohan Reddy has (on December 17 in the state assembly) unveiled his intention to shift the executive capital from Amaravati to Visakhapatnam, locals of the 29 villages in Guntur district are an agitated lot.

In 2015, farmers of these villages parted with 33,000 acres fertile lands adjacent to river Krishna thereby surrendering their primary livelihood. These lands were pooled by the then Chandrababu Naidu government for a mega, world-class capital Amaravati planned in partnership with Singapore firms. In return, farmers were provided annuity (in lieu of farm income) and developed real estate plots.

The farmers who fear their plots would be worthless without the capital setup also say that their lands have become uncultivable because of construction activity in the last few years.

“Capital shift, not NRC, is the danger”

Guntur has a conspicuous presence of Muslims. While Muslims elsewhere in the country are agitated about NRC, Muslims of Amaravati region, fretful over the capital shift, make light of the NRC concerns.  

“We are unsettled by Jagan’s plan to move the capital away from Amaravati. NRC does not concern us at this time when we are facing a much larger threat which could shatter us financially,” Shaik Ismail (58), who gave 10 acres in Neerukonda village, tells Deccan Herald.

“I have no fear of NRC when this is a life and death situation for us,” says Shaik Nagulmeera, who gave three acres near Thulluru.

Nagulmeera is a TDP supporter, Ismail is unaffiliated politically. “We hope the Allah, Jesus or Venkateshwara change Jagan’s mind,” says Ismail.

Public discourse in AP is centred on capital shift and has not witnessed any large scale CAA/NRC protests.

Siva Reddy, convenor of Amaravati Parirakshana Samithi, a JAC leading the agitation said, “We are unaware that NRC/CAA protests are similar to our modes. We are an apolitical organisation of farmers to professionals and would never cause damage to even a rupee of government property. We plead the CM to change his mind.”

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