HKAHS hoists 'new State' flag; mixed response to bandh call

GULBARGA, NOV. 1. The freedom fighter, Mr. Vidyadhar Guruji, on Thursday hoisted a red flag with the boundaries of the five districts of Hyderabad Karnataka outlined on it. The flag was hoisted on the lawns of the Hindi Prachar Sabha here on Rajyotsava Day, signalling the onset of the agitation demanding a separate State for the Hyderabad Karnatak region.

The leaders of the Hyderabad Karnataka Abhivrudhi Horata Samiti (HKAHS), who are spearheading the agitation demanding a separate State on account of the ``neglect'' of the region by successive governments, declared their resolve to achieve their objective.

The President of the HKAHS, and former minister, Mr. Vaijnath Patil, unveiled the map of the ``new State'' comprising Gulbarga, Bidar, Bellary, Raichur and Koppal districts.

However, the response to the bandh call given by the HKAHS in the district as a symbolic boycott of the Rajyotsava Day celebrations was mixed. While the response was very good in Gulbarga city and Chincholi, with most shops, hotels and business establishment remaining closed, the response in the other taluk headquarters was lukewarm. Reports received here said protestors took out processions in Jewargi, Afzalpur and Aland demanding a separate State for the Hyderabad Karnataka region.

The day also had its quota of high drama with the arrest of the top leaders of the HKAHS soon after the flag of the ``new State'' was hoisted. Initially, police officers refused to give any information about the arrest, and when presspersons tried to meet the arrested leaders at the District Armed Reserve (DAR) headquarters, they were prevented from doing so. One officer said the arrested persons had been taken to different police stations in the city.

When efforts to determine the whereabouts of the arrested leaders proved futile, the incident was brought to the notice of the Home Minister, Mr. Mallikarjun Kharge, who was present in the city. Mr. Kharge, who stated he had no knowledge of the arrest of the HKAHS leaders, later said the leaders had been detained at the DAR headquarters and would be released soon.

When the presspersons were finally allowed by the Superintendent of Police, Mr. Alok Kumar, to meet the arrested leaders at the DAR headquarters, Mr. Vaijnath Patil alleged that the police officials had misbehaved while arresting them. Although they did not resist arrest, the police officials dragged them into the police van. A former zilla panchayat member, Mr. Seethkant Tadkal, was also manhandled by a police official, he alleged.

Among the more than 50 others arrested for coercing shopkeepers to down their shutters in the Super Market area were the former legislator, Mr. Hanumanthrao Desai, Mr. Gurushant Pattedar and Dr. Raju Kulageri.

But, Mr. Vaijnath Patil said the HKAHS leaders were picked up when they protested against the attempt by the police to force open the closed shops. He claimed the bandh was a total success which exhibited the support of the people for the agitation.

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