Seemandhra erupts in anger over Telangana decision

Protesters vent ire on statues of Indira and Rajiv in Anantapur; rallies, violent protests break out in coastal Andhra districts

By M Suchitra
Published: Thursday 01 August 2013

Protests against the Central government’s decision to form a separate Telangana state paralysed normal life in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions (now referred to as Seemandhra) of the state on July 31, a day after the Congress Working Committee (CWC) gave approval for the creation of a separate Telangana state. Violence erupted in many places.
Response to the bandh called by Seemandhra Joint Action Council was near total in north coastal Andhra districts of Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam,Vizianagram and Rayalaseema districts of Chittoor, Kurnool and Anantapur.
In Anantapur, protests became violent when supporters of United Andhra Pradesh went berserk. The protesters set afire the zilla parishad, and mandal revenue offices and a post office. Statues of former prime minister late Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi faced the fury of the crowd. The statues were garlanded with slippers, beaten with sticks and burnt while the police looked on helplessly. Commercial and government establishments were damaged. Traffic police outposts were pulled down. The protesters waged pitched battle with the police. Additional police forces had to be rushed to the town. The police fired tear gas shells. But the crowd refused to disperse; later the police were forced to fire into the air to quell the mob.

In Visakhapatnam and other coastal districts, a large number of students, government employees and other groups took to the streets. Educational institutions remained closed. The Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation services were suspended to prevent damage to buses by the furious mobs. Students of Andhra University launched a 72-hour hunger strike. Paramilitary forces have been deployed in large numbers around the university campus.

Homeguard commits suicide for united Andhra

In Vizianagram, too, protesers took out rallies, blockaded roads. D Srinivas Rao, a homeguard working at the Two Town Police station committed suicide reportedly for the cause of a united Andhra Pradesh. In Vijayawada, students’ Joint Action Council for United Andhra Pradesh took out a massive rally. Traders downed shutters in support of the protests. Government employees boycotted duties. The Bar Association of Vijayawada has appealed to advocates to abstain from duties. In Srikakulam, advocates are holding protests against the decision to divide Andhra Pradesh.

No effect on panchayat polls

Even as Andhra Pradesh descended into political turmoil over the Centre's decision to form a separate state of Telangana, the third and final phase of elections to gram panchayats in the state ended peacefully on July 31. The first phase was concluded on July 23 and the second phase on July 27.

"No poll-related violence has been reported from any of the districts," said state election commissioner P Ramakant Reddy while speaking to media persons. The overall poll per centage in the three-phase election was high; 85.73 per cent voters exercised their right to vote. Adilabad district reported the lowest turn out—76.59 per cent—because of rains, Reddy said. In the villages where polls have been postponed for reasons like heavy rains, flood or candidates' deaths, election process will be completed by August 13.

Fresh polls have been ordered in 18 gram panchayats because of reported auctioning of posts. In these panchayats election will be held on August 8 .
In the first phase, 5,803 panchayats went to polls and in the second phase 6,971and in the third 5,943 completed polls, said the election commissioner.


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