Protests continue in Telangana, channels unite to fight media curbs
Protests for separate Telangana state continued for the third consecutive day Saturday while Osmania University remained tense and Telugu television channels came together to fight the curbs on media.
Hyderabad: Protests for separate Telangana state continued for the third consecutive day Saturday while Osmania University remained tense and Telugu television channels came together to fight the curbs on media after police issued notice to a channel for telecasting visuals of violence.
Congress MPs, legislators and other leaders from Telangana held a series of meetings to chalk out their future course of action as pressure mounted on them to resign to pressurize the central government to table a bill in parliament for formation of Telangana state.
The leaders decided to bring pressure on their party government in the state to withdraw police and paramilitary forces from Osmania University and lift media curbs.
The situation in the Osmania University campus here remained tense Saturday as sporadic clashes between students and police continued for the third day while MP Vijayashanti was arrested for trying to enter the campus.
Police used teargas and fired pellets to disperse students trying to take out procession to protest police "repression". Police said the situation was still tense but under control.
A fact-finding committee of state human rights commission visited the campus and met students, who complained of police excesses. The commission sent the nine-member panel following complaints by Telangana lawyers that police were trying to suppress the peaceful agitation.
Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) MP Vijayashanti was arrested by police Saturday evening when she tried to enter the campus. Police stopped the Medak MP at the main gate when she wanted to go inside and talk to students.
The protests, triggered by Srikrishna committee`s report Thursday, continued to rock the region with protesters laying siege to the houses of state ministers, MPs and state legislators of ruling Congress and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) to demand their resignations.
Leaders and activists of Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and other constituents of Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC) staged road blockades in different parts of Telangana protesting the police "excesses" on students at Osmania University.
On a call given by Osmania University Joint Action Committee (OUJAC), students laid siege to the residences of ministers. They also staged protests outside the houses of MPs and state legislators belonging to both the ruling Congress and the main opposition TDP.
They demanded withdrawal of police and paramilitary forces from Osmnia University and lifting of curbs on media covering Telangana protests.
Police arrested scores of protesters in various towns in the region. The protests also led to tension in some areas as police used force to control the crowds.
In another development, Telugu news channels came together to fight curbs imposed on media covering the protests at Osmania University. Representatives of about a dozen channels formed Telugu News Broadcasters Association and urged the government to immediately lift the restrictions, which they termed an attack on freedom of press.
Ever since the protests broke out on Osmania University, the police banned the entry of television channels and the telecast of the protests. Telangana leaders have alleged that police were committing excesses and suppressing agitation by keeping people in the dark about the happenings in the campus.
The association was formed after Hyderabad police issued a notice to Raj News for telecasting visuals of violence in Osmania University. The news channel was issued notice for violation of the National Broadcasters Association (NBA) guidelines and the Cable Network Regulation Act.
The channel is operated by the family of Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao. The channel had Friday showed visuals of policemen beating up two youth.
Police Commissioner A.K. Khan told reporters that police were monitoring all other channels and action would be taken if they iolate the guidelines. He said some channels were telecasting misleading stories.
Khan claimed that the police had not imposed any new restrictions on media. "There are already guidelines issued by NBA, the Cable Operators Act and rulings of high court which bars channels from telecasting violent incidents or visuals which may instigate violence," he said.
Leaders of the TDP met Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and demanded withdrawal of police and paramilitary forces from Osmania University and all other universities in Telangana.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders and workers took out a silent march in Hyderabad to demand withdrawal of forces from Osmania University and to protest media curbs.