Fresh row over re-installation of demolished statues



Hyderabad: Hyderabad police on Friday arrested a group of Telangana activists for staging a protest over the re-installation of statues of eminent Andhra personalities at Tank Bund, on the banks of the Hussain Sagar Lake.

Those arrested include Telangana Jagruthi president K Kavita, daughter of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao.

The atmosphere was tense near Tank Bund as protestors squatted on the road, disrupting traffic on the key link between the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

During the million march organised by Telangana groups last year to demand a separate state, protestors had pulled down the statues of 12 Andhra leaders.

Authorities had begun re-installing bronze statues. The Telangana supporters demanded that only statues of people from the region be installed in Hyderabad, a city that Telangana supporters lay claim to.

Acting on the demand from several Telangana groups, the government has also installed the statue of Komram Bheem, a tribal leader from Telangana. This has not pacified the Telangana Jagruthi, which claims the move to install that statue was mere eyewash.

Kavita told reporters that re-installation of statues be taken up only after consultation with intellectuals from the Telangana region.

The statues demolished by protestors last year include that of Sir Arthur Cotton, an irrigation engineer with the colonial government.

Questioning the installation of Cotton's statue, Kavita said, "What has this British engineer done for Telangana?"

Following the protests, police stepped up security for the statues.

Authorities have re-installed five statues, which were earlier transported to Hyderabad from Bheemavaram in West Godavari district of Andhra region. They plan to re-install the remaining statues in the next 10 days.

The department of culture has paid Rs 47.58 lakh to a sculptor of Bheemavaram for making the statues.

In the 1980s, then chief minister NT Rama Rao installed the statues of 33 Telugu personalities including poets, writers and freedom fighters on Tank Bund, a key tourist spot in the city.

Telangana groups alleged that important people from their region were ignored.

Telangana, which comprises 10 districts including Hyderabad, has a distinct culture. It has also followed a historical trajectory different from Andhra and Rayalaseema, the two other regions that comprise the state of Andhra Pradesh.

IANS