Hyderabad, Feb 10 (IANS) Andhra Pradesh’s Warangal and Karimnagar districts shut down Thursday in response to a call by pro-Telangana groups to protest the visit of Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy.
Shops, business establishments and educational institutions remained closed in Warangal and Karimnagar towns and other parts of the two districts as people voluntarily participated in the shutdown.
Buses of the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) were off the roads while only a few private vehicles plied. Lawyers boycotted the district courts while employees of state-owned units took part in the protests.
Police detained hundreds of Telangana activists, including leaders of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), to prevent them from disrupting the visit of the chief minister.
Amid massive security arrangements, Kiran Kumar Reddy participated in the ‘racchabanda’ programme, taking administration to the doorstep of the people, at a few places in the two districts.
Sporadic incidents of violence marked the shutdown. The protesters damaged two APRTC buses in stone pelting. Activists of the Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC) blocked the roads by cutting trees and burning tyres at some places in Warangal district.
Raising slogans of ‘Jai Telangana’ and ‘CM go back’, the protesters, including students, lawyers and employees, took out rallies.
TRS legislator Vinaybhaskar was kept under house arrest in Hanamkonda town of Warangal district to prevent him from disrupting the chief minister’s visit. He was allowed to move out freely following the intervention of Deputy Speaker D. Manohar but was again arrested a few hours later.
Telangana groups have for the last two weeks been disrupting the ongoing ‘Racchabanda’ programme demanding a bill in parliament to accord separate statehood to the region.
Telangana groups alleged that police resorted to large-scale arrests during the chief minister’s visit. JAC convenor M. Kodandaram accused police of suppressing peaceful protests.
The JAC is calling for shutdown in the districts visited by the chief minister to lodge its protest against the arrests.
Condemning the arrests, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) legislator E. Dayakar Rao said the “police excesses” in Telangana reminded people of the dark period of Emergency in the country.