Thousands march for Telangana, violence mars protest

Activists of various political parties, students, govt employees, lawyers, doctors, teachers, journalists and writers were among the protestors.

Last Updated: Mar 10, 2011, 23:52 PM IST

Hyderabad: Thousands of people violated ban orders and removed barricades to assemble at Tank Bund area in Hyderabad on Thursday as part of the `million march` demanding a separate Telangana state.

Unmindful of the massive presence of police and paramilitary forces, Telangana activists reached Tank Bund from different directions around 1 pm and demanded that the central government introduce a bill in parliament for carving out a separate state.

It is being seen as a major victory for the Telangana movement as people from different walks of life voluntarily gathered for the march planned on the lines of pro-democracy protests in Egypt.

Raising slogans of "Jai Telangana", singing pro-Telangana songs and playing games, the protestors, including women, remained on Tank Bund, the three km long road along Hussain Sagar Lake linking the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

Activists of various political parties, students, government employees, lawyers, doctors, teachers, journalists, writers and cultural artists were among the protestors.

The protestors, who uprooted barricades put up on both ends of the road, outnumbered policemen and succeeded in holding the march despite the police sealing all the routes leading to the road and arresting thousands of people across Telangana region to prevent them from reaching Hyderabad.

Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC) convenor M Kodandaram, along with other leaders, was arrested by police as soon as he was leaving for Tank Bund from TJAC office.

Some protestors said they would not leave Tank Bund unless Kodandaram and other leaders are released.

Congress MPs K Keshava Rao and Madhu Yashki, who had reached Tank Bund to participate in the march, faced the ire of protestors, who threw water bottles and other missiles demanding they resign. Both the leaders were forced to leave the venue.

Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) legislator Harish Rao, who gave the slip to the police after being arrested along with other TRS leaders near the assembly, managed to reach Tank Bund in a boat.

TRS chief K Chandrasekhara Rao`s legislator son Tarakarama Rao was re-arrested near Tank Bund. Chandrasekhara Rao`s daughter Kavita was also among the protestors.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president Kishan Reddy and senior leader Bandaru Dattatreya also reached Tank Bund, along with hundreds of party workers.

"The future of coming generations is more important for me than my examination," said a student who reached Tank Bund immediately after writing Class 11 exams.

Tension prevailed in the surrounding areas as police arrested legislators and leaders of TRS, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and BJP.

The legislators were arrested at Basheerbagh as they were heading towards Tank Bund in different groups.

Police also arrested 200 students of Veterinary College when they were proceeding towards Tank Bund.

Though the agitators promised that the march would be peaceful, the protests were marred by violence later in the day.

Police used teargas shells in the evening to disperse the mob and took back control of Tank Bund, a three-km-long road along Hussain Sagar Lake connecting the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

Damaged statues, burnt vehicles and stones were strewn all along the road, a popular spot for tourists. The protestors also set on fire a ATM of Andhra Bank, a government office and damaged window panes of a hotel.

Director General of Police Aravinda Rao told reporters that tear gas was used to disperse 1,000 protestors, who resorted to violence after the march had concluded.

Eight policemen and an equal number of journalists were injured in the attack by protestors.

The police chief said 20,000 people participated in the march but Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC) put the number at one lakh.

The area was rocked by violence as the protestors attacked mediapersons, damaged cameras and vans, vandalized statues of Telugu literary and historical figures and set afire police vehicles.

As many as six statues were damaged and their broken parts were thrown into the lake. More than 25 video and still cameras of mediapersons were destroyed when they were capturing the destruction of the statues.

About 50 trains were cancelled to prevent people from other Telangana districts reaching Hyderabad.

Tension prevailed at Osmania University as students clashed with police after they were prevented from taking out a rally to Tank Bund. Police fired teargas shells to control the students.

IANS