Telangana march a success as govt crackdown fuels anger

FP

The Telangana march here on Sunday was a success as more than one lakh people converged on the Necklace Road near the state secretariat braving police tear-gas shells and lathicharge. The crackdown, despite the permission given by the Andhra Pradesh government for the march, drew criticism from even Congress leaders.

While the march was allowed between 3 and 7 pm, police tried to prevent people from reaching the protest site, saying they had no permission to walk in processions except on the Necklace Road. This led to clashes at many places. Hundreds were taken into preventive custody. Two media vehicles and four police jeeps were burnt.

Later, the activists defied the deadline to end the rally and kept sitting at the protest site, despite the downpour that began in the evening. Angry at the police action, they resolved to stay put till a separate state was announced.

South Central Railways cancelled 37 trains and suspended all local suburban services in what was seen as a bid to prevent people from other districts of Telangana from reaching Hyderabad.

Students of Osmania University took the lead. More than 10,000 stood face to face with the huge police and Rapid Action Force contingent, seeking to join the protest. Several students were injured as police retaliated to stone-pelting. "This is not democracy, this is dictatorship," said Pravin Kumar, a student leader of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi.

Some student leaders later met Home Minister Sabita Indra Reddy, who reiterated the police view on the protest site.

At least 10 Congress MPs sat on a dharna outside the chief minister's bungalow. "Is this a police state?" demanded Congress MP Madhu Yashki Goud.

DGP V Dinesh Reddy denied that the police were creating obstacles, saying people had been told to "follow the (specified) conditions".

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