Bandh is by and large peaceful; integrationists throw eggs at portraits of Congress leaders and ransack DCC office; rallies and rasta rokos bring traffic to a grinding halt at Benz Circle

The Samaikyandhra agitation in the city that has been on since July 31, took to a gallop with people from all walks of life pitching in their might to join the 48-hour bandh call given by the APNGOs and a few political parties, to save the State from bifurcation. The bandh was total, with all shops and establishments downing their shutters and transport vehicles including autorickshaw and cycle rickshaw staying off the road.

The agitation mounted after Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde announced the Cabinet’s approval on bifurcation of the State with Hyderabad as the common capital for 10 years on Thursday night.

Though the agitation and the bandh in particular took an aggressive shape, it was by and large peaceful expect for a few stray incidents. Commissioner of Police B. Srinivasulu summarised the mood by saying, “there is tension but things are under control”.

The only act of violence was when members of APNGO picketed the Congress office in the evening and vented their ire by ransacking the office and destroying the furniture. They pulled down the banners and threw eggs at the portraits of a few Congress leaders.

Battleground

The other stray incident was when the police had to bodily lift about 200 volunteers of Student JAC from the Benz Circle. The Student JAC led by Devineni Avinash was organising a rally and rasta roko at the strategic Benz Circle, halting traffic on all sides. Before things could go out of control the police intervened and arrested Avinash, NSUI leader N.S. Raju and others.

The Benz Circle that was the battleground for many, including TDP and APNGOs since 6 a.m. was cleared by the security forces by 12 noon to see smooth flow of traffic.

The agitation was not only taken up by the APNGOs or the JACs, even common man joined the call. The morning walkers, many who were senior citizens, enforced a blockade on the National Highway 16 near Ramesh Hospital.

Interestingly, the blockades and rasta rokos were not restricted to a few strategic locations such as Ramavarapadu Ring, Benz Circle and NTR Statue, it was enforced at almost every junction by the local residents and youth. Even roads leading to quite residential areas such as Moghalrajpuram and Madhu Gardens were blocked by vehicles and burning tyres. At one point of time, one could see at least 30 columns of smoke billowing from differing locations of the city. The Commissioner confirmed that there were at least 30 dharnas at different locations. The Jawahar Autonagar Mechanic JAC took out a massive rally at the Autonagar Junction.

The leaders from various JACs were of one opinion - “Congress had betrayed the sentiments of 8 crore Telugu people, just for the sake of a few Lok Sabha seats.” They also said so far the agitation has been following the Gandhian path, and the Congress appears to have misunderstood it to be a ‘timid’ approach, they would scale up the aggression in the coming days and force all the Ministers to resign and bring down the UPA government.

‘Rasta rokos’

Protesting the progress on formation of Telangana State, leaders of various political parties, NGOs and associations were observing 48-hour bandh in Guntur district.

The bandh was total and peaceful on the first day on Friday. Activists of students and NGOs Joint Action Committees (JACs), dalit and other private organisations took out rallies and organised ‘rasta rokos’ opposing the Centre’s decision to divide Andhra Pradesh.

The protestors staged a sit-in at Shankar Vilas and Bus Stand centres and formed human chain at Mother Teresa Centre. All educational institutions, hotels, cinema theatres, petrol bunks, government offices and shops were closed and the public voluntarily participated in the bandh.

City APNGO convenor Dayananda Raju, Student JAC leader M. Venkataramana, leaders S. Sridhar, Hanumantha Rao, L. Appireddy and others participated.

Additional forces

Anticipating trouble over the fast developments on bifurcation of the State, additional forces were deployed in the district. Paramilitary forces were arranged at all major junctions in Guntur, Tenali, and Narsaraopet divisions and patrolling has been intensified to prevent any untoward incidents.

Pickets were arranged at many places to control the mobs. The agitators burnt Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party flags at Mother Teresa Centre opposing the UPA Government’s move on Telangana issue.

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