Telangana protests hit road transport, hundreds detained

Monday, January 17, 2011

HYDERABAD - Road transport was affected in several parts of Telangana in Andhra Pradesh Monday as agitators raised road blockades, demanding separate statehood to the region.

The movement of vehicles on national and state highways was disrupted as activists of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other constituents of the Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC) squatted on the roads.

Leaders and hundreds of activists in Hyderabad and nine other districts of Telangana were detained as the protests led to several kilometres long traffic jams.

JAC convenor M. Kodandaram, BJP leader Bandaru Dattatreya, TRS leaders and a large number of activists were taken into custody at L.B. Nagar crossroads on Hyderabad outskirts when they blocked the traffic on Hyderabad-Vijayawada highway.

Carrying flags of their parties and raising slogans of ‘Jai Telangana’, the agitators squatted on the roads. Some women activists sang folk songs of Telangana to the beat of drum.

“The government is using the police to deny us the democratic right of staging a protest. This is unjust,” Kodandaram told reporters as he was physically lifted by the police and put into a van.

TRS leader N. Narasimha Reddy and scores of party activists were held when they blocked the traffic at RTC crossroads in the heart of Hyderabad.

In Medak district, TRS legislator Harish Rao led the agitation near Siddipet town. Hundreds of trucks, buses and other vehicles were caught in a huge traffic jam on Hyderabad-Mumbai highway as people squatted on the road and were seen cooking food and playing games bang in the middle of highway.

Students, lawyers and employees of public sector undertakings also joined the agitation for separate Telangana in Karimnagar, Warangal, Adilabad, Nizamabad, Ranga Reddy, Nalgonda, Mahabubnagar and other districts.

With the massive protests after nearly a week-long lull, the pro-Telangana parties have intensified their movement demanding a bill for formation of separate Telangana state to be introduced in the budget session of parliament.

The region had been witnessing sporadic protests since Jan 6 when the Srikrishna Committee’s report was made public. The report suggested six options that included formation of a Telangana state but strongly favoured a united Andhra Pradesh.

The pro-Telangana parties as well as leaders among the ruling Congress and the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) are demanding that the government accept only the fifth suggestion of the Srikrishna panel and grant separate statehood to Telangana.

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