Hyderabad: The 56th formation day of Andhra Pradesh was marred by protests and black flag demonstrations in Telangana with almost all ministers from the region staying away from the celebrations.
Telangana activists in various districts of Telangana hoisted black flags on government and private buildings in response to the call given by the Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC) to observe "Betrayal Day".
Except two ministers from Hyderabad who were present at the main official function attended by Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy in the state capital, all the ministers from Telangana stayed away from the celebrations.
District collectors hoisted the national flag at the main functions held in every district headquarter amid tight security arrangements. Fearing violent protests by Telangana groups as in the last two years, the ministers and ruling party legislators did not participate in the celebrations.
Tension prevailed at Osmania University campus in Hyderabad as pro-Telangana students tried to take out a rally from Arts College to Gun Park near state Assembly. The students pelted stones on police when the rally was stopped at NCC Gate.
Police officers said the rally could not be allowed as prohibitory orders were in force in the city. However, the students tried to force their way, triggering clash with police. Policemen fired teargas shells to disperse the students.
Women activists of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) staged protest at Tank Bund in the heart of the city, demanding resignations of ministers from Telangana for separate state. Police arrested the protesters.
There was mild tension at the statue of "Telugu talli" near state secretariat when pro-Telangana women activists hoisted black flags. Police arrested them.
Opposing the demand for bifurcation of the state, activists of Visahal Andhra Sabha also staged a protest at "Telugu talli".
Some TRS activists were injured at Jagtiyal in Karimnagar when police baton charged them during a protest march.
There was tension in Warangal town as TRS legislator Vinay Bhaskar disrupted the celebrations attended by the District Collector. He along with his supporters barged into the venue, removed the banner from the dais and uprooted the mike.
According to eyewitnesses, the legislator fell unconscious as police used force to disperse the protesters. Police arrested the TRS leader and shifted him out.
In Adilabad town, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) rebel legislator Jogu Ramana was arrested when he tried to disrupt the celebrations at the police parade grounds.
Telangana activists also barged into government offices and hoisted black flags in Khammam, Medak, Warangal and other districts. There were reports of clashes between protesters and police at some places.
The main official function at NTR Stadium in Hyderabad was held amid unprecedented security. The Chief Minister unfurled the national flag, reviewed the parade and distributed prizes among police and civil officials for their meritorious services.
Addressed the gathering from behind a bullet-proof podium, the first time that a Chief Minister has done so, he said there would be no compromise on maintaining law and order.
Stating that peace is a must for development, Kiran Kumar Reddy said the government would take all steps to protect public and private property.
Hundreds of policemen and personnel from central paramilitary forces were deployed around the venue. Security personnel were also posted on high-rise buildings. Prohibitory orders were imposed around the Stadium to foil any disruption attempt by Telangana protesters.
D Nagender and Mukesh Goud, two of the three ministers from Hyderabad, attended the celebrations.
In Andhra and Rayalaseema regions of the state, the day was celebrated with holding of meetings by various organisations, which paid tributes to the leaders who laid down their lives for the formation of a state for Telugu-speaking people.
Telangana groups, fighting for separate statehood to the region, observe the formation day as "black day" or "betrayal day" to protest the merger with then Andhra state on this day in 1956.
Telangana, part of erstwhile princely state of Hyderabad, was merged with Andhra state to form Andhra Pradesh, a state for Telugu-speaking people with Hyderabad as its capital.
Earlier on September 1, 1953, Telugu-speaking Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra areas of Madras state were separated to form Andhra state with Kurnool as its capital.
Telangana region, which comprises 10 districts including Hyderabad, is currently witnessing a movement for separate statehood. Telangana parties allege that Andhra rulers betrayed the backward region by going back on all the assurances given at the time of merger.