Police shoot rubber bullets after students hurl stones at them
HYDERABAD: Osmania University campus turned into a battlefield with students clashing with police repeatedly on Wednesday, after they were prevented from marching to the Gun Park in a procession with the body of K. Venugopal Reddy, a student who immolated himself on Tuesday over the delay in carving out a separate Telangana State.
Police shot rubber bullets after caning and lobbing teargas shells proved ineffective to quell the riotous mobs that hurled stones on them. Six students were injured in the firing while more than 45 students and policemen, including ACP K. Ramachandran, were hurt in the see-saw battles that continued throughout the day on the sprawling university campus.
Two police vehicles were burnt and another partially damaged when agitators set fire to them. However by nightfall, the situation returned to normality.
The pitched battles on the campus came in the backdrop of all the ten districts in Telangana region observing a 24-hour shutdown to protest the delay in bifurcation of the State. While the bandh in State capital was by and large peaceful, stray incidents of stone-pelting and angry protests were reported from various places.
On the university campus, agitators and police tried to outmanoeuvre each other. While students planned to walk to the Gun Park, police were determined to foil the walk. Strategically, the police allowed the procession after Reddy’s body was loaded into a van.
As the cortege reached Ladies’ Hostel, the police instructed the van driver to take the Adikmet road on southern side and head to Nalgonda. TRS legislators Harish Rao and Etala Rajendar and BJP MLA G. Kishen Reddy too joined the students.
Even as the students woke up to the police gameplan, strong contingents moved in to physically prevent the students from chasing the van. That was the tipping point for a violent confrontation that was to continue till evening.
As agitators began hurling stones, policemen responded with lathicharge and teargas shells. The agitators had the advantage as they ran into an open area where they found a large number of stones which they used freely prompting the police to repeatedly lathicharge them.
The tit-for-tat battles ended only after the intervention of some advocates who rushed to the campus to broker peace. The retreat of police, as per the demand of the students, brought about a semblance of order on the campus by evening.
Meanwhile, a TV channel ran a scroll saying the authorities were closing the hostels and the students rushed to the administrative building for another vociferous protest.
They burnt tyres on roads, but the police kept a watchful distance this time.
In Nalgonda district too, agitators clashed with police in Nakrekal town when the van carrying the body of Reddy was not allowed to stop en route to Suryapet.
Scores of agitators and policemen were injured in clashes.