The manner in which the Congress ignored the protests and went ahead with its decision speaks volumes of its arrogance

The first day of the two-day bandh called by the AP NGOs Association and the 72-hour bandh call given by the YSR Congress was total and peaceful, by and large, in the city on Friday.

Main roads and the National Highway-16, which passes through the city, wore a deserted look as groups of people voluntarily gathered at various junctions and burnt tyres across the roads, and formed human chains preventing the movement of vehicles. The protesters, carrying Samaikyandhra flags, raised slogans against bifurcation of the State.

Schools declared a holiday and most of the shops and offices remained closed. Autorickshaws were seen plying in the early hours, but they were prevented from ferrying passengers. In the absence of public transport, people coming from distant places were seen walking down the roads along with their luggage.

Motorists waited patiently for some time before pleading with the protesters to let them go. The organisers said: “We are organising the bandh for you (the people), can’t you wait for sometime?”

The common feeling among the people, by and large, was one of betrayal by the Congress and other political parties. The manner in which the Union Cabinet had approved the note on Telangana “without even considering the two-month protest by the people of Seemandhra” came in for severe criticism from all sections.

“The manner in which the Congress has ignored the protests from Seemandhra and went ahead with its decision speaks volumes of its arrogance,” said an elderly man, who recently retired from Central government service.

Some people were seen arguing with the Samaikyandhra protesters: “What's the use of blocking traffic now? It’s all over.”

“I had to seek lifts from different motorists to reach the airport from Kancharapalem, about 5 km away, said a youth employed at the baggage scanning section at the Visakhapatnam airport.

A passport applicant from West Godavari district was given the 2 p.m. slot by the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK). He came to the city on Thursday night and put up at a relative’s house at Gajuwaka. “It took about five hours for me to reach here (NAD junction), which is about 10 km away,” he told this correspondent after seeking a lift.

Many motorcyclists going alone declined to give a lift as they were unsure as to how far they could go as protests were being organised not only at junctions but en route. A family going from Rajahmundry to Srikakulam was stranded on the National Highway along with its luggage at Maddilapalem as vehicles were stopped by protesters.

At some places, the protesters chopped off branches of trees and used them to block traffic. Thick smoke billowed from burning tyres across the roads.

A flower seller was seen walking down the National Highway carrying flowers to the market in the city as vehicle they were travelling was stopped on the city outskirts.

Rally taken out

As a part of the Karmika Garjana in support of Samaikyandhra, a rally was taken out by members of all trade unions from Hindustan Zinc to Old Gajuwaka.

At the meeting held later, speakers said the Union Cabinet, by accepting Telangana note, had not taken into consideration the feelings of Seemandhra people and the raging agitation in favour of Samaikyandhra.

It demanded that the decision be withdrawn, and expressed the view that the State would progress if kept united.

Members of INTUC, AITUC, HMS, and DITU participated.

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