Hyderabad: Pro-Telangana activists today launched a 36-hour `samara deeksha` (protest programme) to mount pressure on government to concede to their statehood demand after the state government granted them permission a day after police red flagged the agitation.
Earlier, scores of pro-Telangna leaders and activists, including Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) MLA K T Rama Rao and others, were taken into custody at different places when they attempted to march towards the protest venue - Indira Park.
"Permission has been granted to them (activists) to hold protest till 6 pm tomorrow," a senior police officer told PTI.
The state government gave in to the demand of agitators today even though police yesterday denied the permission fearing the possibility of anti-social elements sneaking into the `deeksha` camp.
MLC Chukka Ramaiah and balladeer Gaddar among other statehood supporters met Andhra Pradesh Home Minister Sabitha Reddy seeking permission to organise the `samara deeksha` and assured her that the agitation would be peaceful.
On the Home Minister`s direction, the activists met Hyderabad police commissioner Anurag Sharma and put forth their demand, sources said.
After permission was granted, a large number of statehood supporters, along with T-JAC Chairman M Kodandaram and leaders of different Telangana groups, BJP and CPI, assembled at the Indira Park.
Telangana MLAs and MLCs, holding a dharna in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Andhra Pradesh Assembly premises against police for denying permission, proceeded towards Indira Park, to participate in `samara deeksha`.
The call for fresh protests was given by T-JAC to take the separate statehood demand forward even as deliberations are on at the highest level in Congress to resolve the vexed issue.
Meanwhile, tension prevailed on the Osmania University (OU) campus when a group of pro-Telangana students pelted police with stones when they were prevented from taking out a rally towards Raj Bhavan.
Police responded with lobbing teargas shells to disperse the protesters on OU campus.
However, protesting students took out a bike rally on the campus and were marching towards Raj Bhavan as the part of their plan to lay siege to it, but were stopped by police near NCC gate after which protesters argued with them and squatted on road.
They later hurled stones at police personnel who retaliated by firing tear-gas shells.
There were reports of injuries to at least three students even as security forces picked up the protesters.
Elaborate security arrangements were made at various places in Hyderabad and other parts of Telangana region in Andhra Pradesh as a precautionary measure.
While police barricaded the routes towards Indira Park and diverted traffic at different places, including Assembly and Raj Bhavan, the restrictions were later relaxed after the permission to hold `samara deeksha` was granted.
Police had earlier said they had specific intelligence inputs that protesters may resort to violence, as was witnessed earlier during the `Million March` on Tank Bund and `Telangana March` on Necklace Road here.
Meanwhile, about a hundred Telangana activists were arrested in various parts of Karimnagar district for attempting to participate in `samara deeksha`. Among those arrested were T-JAC chairman Venkatamallaiah and convener Ravi.
According to MLA K T Rama Rao, the Centre had given a commitment to the people of Telangana during the all-party meeting in New Delhi on December 28 last year, wherein Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde had categorically said the Telangana issue would be resolved within a month.
After being released from custody, Rao alleged that the Centre was not keeping its words and demanded the Union government to spell out its stand at the earliest.
"Protests and agitations will go on until Central government comes out with a decision on granting statehood to the region", he said.