Anti-bifurcation protests lead to tension in Kurnool; police resort to lathicharge, 30 arrested

The agitation against bifurcation of State turned ugly on Sunday in the city when a group of protesters, claiming to be the members of Joint Action Committee of teachers, threw footwear at Minister for Minor Irrigation T.G. Venkatesh’s convoy. A scuffle ensued after the attack between the supporters of the Minister and the protesters. The Minister’s supporters too retaliated by throwing footwear at the protesters’ camp.

Mr. Venkatesh who was at Gowri Gopal centre to attend a private function was cornered by the protesters, who rained footwear on his car and convoy. The Minister who was annoyed by the incident challenged the protesters by asking them where they were when the statues were demolished on the Tank Bund in Hyderabad. He remarked that he had never seen a single man among the protesters during the last 10 years of his agitation to protect the rights of Rayalaseema.

The police resorted to lathicharge and took into custody 30 persons before the crowd was dispersed. According to reports, the supporters of Mr. Venkatesh were also anticipating some trouble since his return from abroad in the wake of the ruling Congress party losing control over the agitation. The teachers’ JAC and advocates staged demonstrations at the residences of Ministers in the last fortnight.

The Congress leaders too held a meeting recently to discuss the action plan on how to react in case of assault. The JAC staged a demonstration before the District Congress Office recently and threw eggs and tomatoes. The Congress leaders held that the attacks on the Congress leaders and offices were being carried out at the behest of YSR Congress leaders and some of the Left leaders were also aiding them.

Mr. Venkatesh told reporters that only a handful of rowdy elements backed by a political party had carried out the attack and such theatrics would not diminish their morale. Mr Venkatesh said they would abide by the decision of the JAC of APNGOs who were steering the movement in the right direction without being subservient to any political party. “We salute the six lakh NGOs who were agitating for the past 45 days without wages and accept only their leadership,” he said.

He said they would plan Chalo Delhi or Chalo Hyderabad programme soon to draw the attention of the Congress High Command to the people’s anguish.

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