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Long Sunday march takes Telangana to its heart

Tension gripped Hyderabad on Sunday as violent clashes broke out between pro-Telangana supporters and the police in several parts of the city when the activists defied prohibitory orders and joined the Telangana march in a massive show of solidarity for a separate state.

Violating prohibitory orders, the Telangana supporters headed towards the Necklace Road around the Hussain Sagar Lake, the venue of the event, and clashed with security personnel on their way.

Incidents of violence were reported from the Osmania University campus, Khairatabad and the Andhra Pradesh Secretariat. When they were stopped from passing by the Secretariat Road, the protesters pelted stones and tried to remove the barricades which prompted the security personnel to lob tear gas shells. 'Protesters were direction-less on their way towards the venue. They tried to proceed through prohibited areas,' the director general of police [law and order] S A Huda said. 'We have been monitoring the situation. It is tense but under control,' he said.

The protesters torched two police vehicles at the Necklace Road, the police said. It used water cannons and lobbed tear gas shells on protesters near the venue. Braving heavy rain, thousands of protesters refused to leave the Necklace Road even as the deadline set by police ended at 7 pm on Sunday.

The Telangana Joint Action Committee [JAC] convenor M Kodandaram and other leaders said the protest would continue till the central government agreed to the demand for a separate state.

Raising slogans of 'Jai Telangana' amid the beating of drums and singing songs by Telangana artists, men, women and children from various sections asked the central government to make Telangana a separate state. The leaders of the JAC, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi [TRS], the Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP], the Communist Party of India and organisations of students, employees, lawyers, women and trade unions were on the dais.

Twice the police arrested MPs from the ruling Congress from Telangana who staged a sit-in in front of the chief minister's office to protest large-scale arrests of people coming to Hyderabad. A section of state ministers from the region threatened to quit.

Several parts of the city resembled battle zones, with police sealing off the routes around the secretariat, the chief minister's office and other high-security areas. Legislators of the Telugu Desam Party were also arrested in front of the assembly building as they blocked traffic in support of the march.

Amid fears that properties of people from Andhra and Rayalaseema regions could be attacked, many roads were sealed off. Police chief Dinesh Reddy monitored the situation from a helicopter.


CONG READY TO CONCEDE DEMAND


On Sunday, while violent clashes broke out between pro-Telangana activists and the Andhra Pradesh police over the contentious Telangana statehood issue, the central government looks to be in no urgency to address the protesters' demand. A senior Congress leader said that his party might consider the formation of the new state, but the decision would be taken close to the General Election in 2014. This issue has been discussed with the party's high command but members of the Congress have been told to wait and watch. The Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi though played safe and said after the day-long agitation, 'Our state in-charge of Andhra Pradesh Ghulam Nabi Azad has been in touch with all the groups there and at a proper time a decision will be taken on this issue.'
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