Hyderabad: Police in Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh have arrested hundreds of activists of various political and non-political organizations to prevent them from reaching Hyderabad for Friday`s march to the state legislative Assembly.
Leaders of Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC), which has called for `chalo assembly` to press the demand for separate statehood to the region, were arrested in various districts of Telangana.
Police rounded up leaders and activists of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Communist Party of India (CPI) and other parties in Warangal, Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Medak, Adilabad and other districts.
In Karimnagar alone, 1,400 people were arrested by the police. In Warangal, another stronghold of Telangana movement, dozens of top leaders of TRS and other constituents of JAC were arrested. Hundreds of others were bound over to maintain peace.
Prohibitory orders banning gatherings, meetings and rallies were imposed in the districts. Police were also keeping a tight vigil on the buses of state-owned Road Transport Corporation coming to Hyderabad from various places in the region. Police teams were checking both buses and private vehicles to prevent protestors heading towards the state capital.
The JAC has condemned the arrests and vowed to go ahead with the march despite the government refusing permission for the same.
"Everybody has a right to protest in a democracy but the government is trying to suppress a democratic movement," said TRS leader N. Narasimha Reddy. He warned that the government would be responsible for any violence during the march.
Tension prevailed in Osmania University campus Wednesday as the students tried to take out a rally, demanding the government to give permission for the march. Police used teargas shells to disperse the students after they pelted stones and removed a barricade to take out the rally.
Hyderabad Police Commissioner Anurag Sharma reiterated that there is no permission for `chalo assembly`. He told reporters that such a protest can`t be permitted when the assembly is in session.
The police chief said there were apprehensions of violence if the protest was allowed in view of the past experiences. He also pointed out that a Maoist leader has called for turning the agitation into a militant struggle. "When large number of people gather, the extremists may also join them," he said.
He said 17 checkposts were set up at the entry points into the city to prevent gathering of people. Prohibitory orders have already been imposed in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. Police have also ordered closure of liquor shops and bars on Friday.
The police chief said additional forces were being deployed as part of the security arrangements. Policemen were seen erecting additional barricades and barbed fencing around the assembly building located in the heart of the city.
Meanwhile, Telugu Desam Party`s Telangana leaders have declared their support to `chalo assembly`. TDP leader E. Dayakar Rao said the government would be responsible for any untoward incidents during the protest.