Hyderabad: Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief K Chandrasekhara Rao was on Sunday sent to jail for 14 days after his arrest in Andhra Pradesh`s Karimnagar district before he could begin his "fast unto death" for a separate Telangana state. The arrest triggered violent protests across the region.
At least three people tried to immolate themselves to protest the arrest while violence broke out in Osmania, Kakatiya and other universities as students came out on the streets in support of the TRS leader.
Police arrested hundreds of TRS workers and sympathizers in all 10 districts of the region, including Hyderabad, as violent incidents revived the memories of the 1969 agitation for a separate state.
KCR, as Rao is popularly known, was going to Siddipet town in Medak, about 100 km from here, when he was taken into custody by police on the outskirts of Karimnagar town on charges of rioting, criminal conspiracy and inciting people to violence, police said.
KCR and TRS leaders N Narasimha Reddy and Vijayrama Rao were produced before a magistrate in Khammam town and were sent to jail for 14 days.
They were later shifted to a sub-jail in Khammam, about 200 km from Siddipet.
KCR told reporters outside the magistrate`s residence that he would launch "fast-unto-death" in the jail.
The TRS leader had vowed a fight to finish by sitting on a fast from 11 am near the Martyrs Memorial at Siddipet.
After being held, he was first taken to Warangal town but in view of the tense situation there he was shifted to Khammam, an official said. But his counsel alleged that he was booked by the Khammam police without jurisdiction.
TRS ideologue Jayashankar, party`s floor leader in assembly E Rajender and KCR`s son and legislator Tarakarama Rao were also arrested in Warangal and Karimnagar districts.
Police personnel, including the Rapid Action Force (RAF), used force to disperse and arrest dozens of KCR`s supporters who had squatted on the road to prevent his arrest.
Police held hundreds of party workers in different districts of Telangana when they were heading towards Siddipet.
Tension prevailed in Karimnagar, Warangal, Medak and other districts of Telangana as TRS workers took to the streets, damaging buses and staging road blockades. Some climbed on water tanks and mobile phone towers threatening to commit suicide.
One person in LB Nagar in Hyderabad set himself on fire to protest KCR`s arrest. He was shifted to a hospital where his condition is stated to be critical.
Two TRS supporters also tried to immolate themselves in Warangal and Nalgonda districts.
Fearing more violence, police have sounded an alert in Telangana region.
Personnel of the elite anti-Maoist force, Greyhounds, have also been deployed to deal with the situation.
The cable TV services were also stopped in Karimnagar, Warangal and some other parts of the region on the direction of police.
In Siddipet, TRS legislator Harish Rao, who launched a "fast unto death" following KCR`s arrest, was also taken into custody by police.
High drama followed as Harish Rao threatened to commit suicide if he was arrested. He had even doused himself with kerosene. However, armed policemen, including personnel from Rapid Action Force (RAF), physically lifted him into a vehicle.
In Hyderabad, KCR supporters damaged the statue of former chief minister Kasu Brahmanand Reddy, who is blamed by Telangana protagonists for suppressing the violent Telangana movement in 1969.
There was much tension on the Osmania University campus also as at least 20 students were injured in clashes that broke out between police and students following the TRS chief`s arrest.
A student also succumbed to the injuries he allegedly suffered at the hands of police. But Hyderabad police commissioner Prasada Rao said the student died of fits.
Police also used force against the students protesting KCR`s arrest on the campus of Kakatiya University in Warangal.
Medak MP and former actress Vijayshanti, who was keeping away from TRS activities due to her differences with KCR, also joined the protests.
She was also arrested by the police when she staged a sit-in at the office of the superintendent of police in Sangareddy in Medak.