Hyderabad: Tension prevailed at the opposition Congress party's office here as police stopped its top leaders from proceeding to the Mallanna Sagar project site in Medak district.
Police detained former union minister S Jaipal Reddy, opposition leader in Telangana assembly K Jana Reddy, opposition leader in legislative council Mohammed Ali Shabbir and others as they left for Medak district, which is witnessing protests over land acquisition for the proposed irrigation project.
Senior leaders Mallu Batti Vikaramarka, M Sashidhar Reddy, Sunitha Lakshma Reddy, Mallu Ravi, Anjan Kumar Yadav and others were taken into custody and shifted to different police stations in the city.
Congress leaders lodged a strong protest when police stopped the buses arranged as part of their 'Chalo Mallanna Sagar' programme. Heated arguments between the police and Congress leaders led to some jostling.
The main opposition party condemned what it called the repression let loose by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government in order to go ahead with the project.
Jaipal Reddy said there was no transparency in the manner in which the project was being taken up. "There are questions like whether there is any real need for such a big reservoir and whether such a huge land needs to be acquired," he said.
He said the government took a unilateral decision and was using force to suppress the protests by the people who face eviction from 14 villages.
Shabbir said the TRS government instead of paying compensation under the Land Acquisition Act 2013, was trying to implement its own order (GO 123). He said there was no provision of rehabilitation and resettlement in the state government order.
People in the villages facing submergence due to the project staged protests. The agitation took a violent turn on Sunday when police baton-charged farmers who tried to impose a road blockade in support of their demand for adequate compensation.
Medak, the native district of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, observed a shutdown on Monday on a call by the opposition parties. Leaders of various parties were arrested in different parts of the district during the shutdown.
The TRS government has alleged that the opposition parties were provoking the people. Irrigation minister Harish Rao said the government was ready to pay compensation under any legislation.