Trouble breaks out at book release organised by the Visalandhra Mahasabha as Telangana activists burn copies of the book and vandalise the building
A dozen Telangana activists, including journalists, on Wednesday disrupted a meeting at the Basheerbagh Press Club here, convened by the Visalandhra Mahasabha to release the Telugu version of a book outlining why Andhra Pradesh should remain an integrated State.
An activist tore a copy of the book while another set it on fire. When he flung the burning pages onto the dais, as Mahasabha Secretary Parakala Prabhakar was speaking, an organiser reciprocated by hurling a flower vase.
Tripods used by camerapersons of television channels were wielded by activists who broke almost every glass pane in the auditorium.
On information about possible trouble, a heavy posse of police was on guard and only those who displayed their media identity cards were allowed entry into the hall on the first floor.
The book was released by Mahbub Ali, a freedom fighter, who participated in the Telangana Armed Struggle.
‘T’-men barge in
About half-an-hour after the function started, a few activists barged into the auditorium and soon it was a free-for-all.
Earlier, uniformed policemen and those in plainclothes who were present in the auditorium, were forced to go out by some journalists who raised their voices against their presence.
When trouble broke out, the law enforcers trooped back in and escorted the organisers out of the hall.
Addressing the gathering, Mr. Prabhakar said the English version titled, ‘Refuting an Agitation: 101 lies and dubious arguments of Telangana separatists’ was released on January 22 this year, in New Delhi.
No clarity on ‘T’, claim Visalandhra Mahasabha
Regretting that every meeting of the Mahasabha was disrupted by the separatists, he said that political parties were not clarifying their stand on Telangana.
C. Anjaneya Reddy, a former senior police officer and a core committee member of the Mahasabha, presided.
“We have collated authentic information and feel that people need to distinguish between fact and fiction. We have problems like lack of access to education and health and the like to tackle. In a democracy there is freedom of expression,” he said, recalling B.R. Ambedkar’s words that pressing problems faced by people needed to be solved.
Earlier, one of the authors of the book and Mahasabha President, N. Chakravarthi, said freedom of expression was a fundamental right.
“We need to work on the four core areas of providing basic education, healthcare, share natural resources, primarily water and power. We need to address these burning issues,” he said.
Journalists' body condemns attack
The A.P. Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ) on Wednesday condemned the damage to property caused by some journalists who backed a separate Telangana State.
Indian Journalists Union secretary-general D. Amar, APUWJ president D. Somasundar and general secretary Y. Narender said during a meeting convened by the Visalandhra Mahasabha, some journalists who had come to cover the event had broken the glass panes of the Desoddaraka Bhavan, the office of the APUWJ.
They termed the actions of the protestors as undemocratic and against journalistic values. Everyone enjoyed the freedom of expression and respecting this, APUWJ would strive to protect it.
Meanwhile, the Visalandhra Mahasabha condemned the incident and blamed the police for its ‘failure’ to control the actions of mischief-makers. Its president N. Chakravarthy said he hoped that all those who strived to protect civil rights would condemn the act.