Crowds go on the rampage, fight pitched battles with police

A series of violent incidents marred the Telangana march with supporters of statehood fighting pitched battles with the police here on Sunday.

The agitators also decided to stay put on Necklace Road, a day ahead of the XI Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity.

Apparently, the government’s strategy of allowing the march at a pre-designated place from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. backfired with Telangana leaders making it clear that they would not leave the place until they got an announcement on the road map for formation of the separate State.

Stone-throwing

Telangana supporters fought with the police on almost all routes to the venue. About 20 vehicles of the police and two belonging to TV channels were either burnt or damaged in the clash which saw the forces and the crowds going back and forth in the lobbing of teargas shells and stone-throwing.

A railway cabin straddling the track near the Necklace Road station was also burnt as also a mobile power unit and a static power junction.

The forces lobbed scores of teargas shells, both in the conflict zone and later when the crowds withdrew at nightfall. The second spell of shelling was apparently a warning to the crowds to disperse as the time allotted for the march had expired.

But, a few thousand people squatted in front of the stage as Telangana Joint Action Committee chairman M. Kodandaram and MLAs Nagam Janardhan Reddy, Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, S. Venugopalachary and others gave a call for a sit-in until the Ministers from Telangana districts arrived to resolve the problem.

A heavy downpour twice in quick succession was no deterrent for the crowd to pull out. Artists led by Vimalakka kept them engaged with songs on Telangana.

A few youth who were injured in lathi charge and the water cannon were lifted to the stage to show the leaders and participants the “atrocities” of the forces. A hundred-metre stretch bore tell-tale marks with stones littered around and burnt vehicles.

Huge bundles of barbed wire removed by the crowds to set up the clash with the forces were found abandoned on the side of the road.

The police stopped the crowds at several places en route and sent them back. The marchers converged near the Secretariat which was barricaded even as several Ganesh idols were awaiting immersion. The route for the immersion was diverted.