Hyderabad: Ten MPs from Telangana, including nine belonging to Andhra Pradesh`s ruling Congress, and over a dozen state legislators were Saturday arrested along with over 3,000 others for participating in the opening day of the three-day "rail blockade" across Telangana.
Sending a strong message to those participating in the movement fof a separate Telangana state, police booked MPs, legislators, former ministers and other leaders. They remained under police custody till late in the evening and the police said three of the MPs and two legislators were booked under the Railway Protection Act.
Police also booked Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief and MP K. Chandrasekhara Rao and Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC) convenor M. Kodandaram under the Railway Protection Act for calling the blockade that has disrupted rail movemnt.
The arrests evoked criticism from all quarters, including state ministers from Telangana. At a meeting held Saturday evening, the ministers disapproved of the government action in arresting the MPs and legislators. They urged Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy not be tough with the agitators.
Leaders of opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) were arrested when they staged a sit-in outside the camp office of the chief minister, demanding release of those arrested during "rail roko".
According to police spokesman and Additional Director General of Police S. A. Huda, 2,382 people were arrested across Telangana Saturday. They include 2,133 taken into preventive custody and another 249 arrested for specific cases.
The arrested MPs include K. Keshava Rao, G. Sukhender Reddy, Balram Naik, Rajaiah, Madhu Goud Yaskhi, Ponnam Prabhakar, G. Vivek, K. Rajagopal Reddy (all of Congress) and TRS MP Vijayshanti.
Karimnagar MP Prabhakar was also booked for escaping from a police station in Karimnagar district. He was re-arrested.
Chandrasekhara Rao`s son and TRS legislator K. Taraka Rama Rao, who was arrested twice in the day, was booked for trying to assault policemen discharging their duties.
The police officer said the arrests were continuing in Telangana, which comprises 10 districts including Hyderabad.
The clashes between police and protestors at some places triggered tension while state and central forces were mobilised in large numbers to protect railway property.
Five policemen were injured in two incidents in Warangal and Hyderabad.
Director General of Police Dinesh Reddy had earlier warned that anybody participating in "rail roko" would be booked under Railway Protection Act. He had also cautioned agitators that they may get life imprisonment under the act.
Senior railways and state police officials made an aerial survey of about 1,600 km long railway tracks in the region.
Led by Additional Director General of the Government Railway Police V.S.K. Kaumudi, senior officials in a helicopter flew over the railway tracks to review the situation on the ground.
Claiming that the situation was peaceful, the railway authorities restored some trains cancelled earlier. These include six trains between Hyderabad and Mumbai.
Railways had earlier cancelled as many as 136 trains and diverted 80 other trains in view of the blockade. It, however, operated 11 express and passenger trains as scheduled.