Amid heightened tension, the much publicised ‘Save Andhra Pradesh’ public meeting organised by the APNGOs against bifurcation of the State began at the Lal Bahadur Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Thousands of employees from all the 13 districts of Seemandhra region descended on the stadium since Saturday morning. The police frisked each and every employee before they were allowed into the venue of the meeting.
However, traffic was not affected as most of the vehicles were allowed to the gate of the assembly.
On the Basheerbagh-Police Control room road, a heavy contingent of police kept strict vigil outside the gate of Nizam College hostel. The students climbed hostel buildings, raised slogans in support of an integrated State.
The scene was different on the Osmania University campus, where the students clashed with police, armed with sticks. The police resorted to teargas shells to disperse agitating students. The meeting at LB Stadium, which was packed, began around 2 pm. Since APSRT withdrew all services, thousands of participants walked up to the stadium from railway stations.
Meanwhile, 10 Telangana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS) MLAs sat in protest on assembly premises, alleging a raw deal to Telangana supporters who wanted to express their dissatisfaction over granting permission to the meeting of the AP NGOs demanding integrated state. The police rounded up a large number of Telangana supporters.
Soon, members of the advocates of T-JAC joined the pro-Telangana protesters. They were picked up by the police after a while.
Addressing the meeting, APNGO's president Ashok Babu said Saturday’s meeting was just the beginning and would not end till the State was kept united. The decision taken by the Congress party has landed it in a situation that it could neither go forward or backward. "We have organised this meeting only to highlight the opposition to bifurcation," he said and added that if the decision was not reversed, APNGOs would organise Millenieum March at Parade Grounds. "This is not a warning but only to voice our concern," he added.
He felt that the move to bifurcate the state would bring serious loss to all the three regions of the state - Coastal, Rayalaseema and Telangana. Students, employees of the APSRTC and staff of the various government departments would also be facing severe hardships due to the bifurcation.
Mr. Babu maintained that the government employees who were on strike for a united State were unperturbed by reports of salary cuts.
The APNGO forum leader expressed his happiness at the heavy turnout of employees to the massive event, unmindful of the scorching heat. "The political parties were elected to power to rule the people and not to divide them," Mr. Babu said.