The Telangana march here on Sunday was a success as thousands of people converged on the Necklace Road braving tear-gas shells and baton-charge. The harsh police response,despite the permission given by the Andhra Pradesh government for the march,drew criticism from even Congress MPs and leaders.
While the march was allowed between 3 and 7 pm,police tried to prevent people from reaching the protest site,saying they had no permission to walk in processions except on the Necklace Road. This led to clashes at many places. Hundreds of people were taken into preventive custody even as police barricades led to traffic jams and chaos. Two media vehicles and four police jeeps were burnt.
Later,the activists defied the deadline of 7 pm despite the heavy downpour that began in the evening. Since obstacles had been raised in the way of the protest,they would also defy the conditions laid by the police,the leaders declared.
To prevent people from other districts of Telangana from coming to Hyderabad ,the South Central Railways cancelled 12 Express and 25 passenger trains and suspended all local suburban train services. Railway officials said they had taken the decision based on inputs provided by police.
Students of Osmania University took the lead,defying police and jumping over barbed wires and iron barricades to join the procession. More than 10,000 students stood face to face with the huge police and Rapid Action Force contingents at the university main gate at 11 am. Several students were injured as police retaliated to stone-pelting by them.
This is not democracy,this is dictatorship, said Pravin Kumar,a student leader of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).
Some students leaders later met Home Minister Sabita Indra Reddy,who reiterated that they were permitted to hold a protest only at Necklace Road.
At least 10 Congress MPs sat on a dharna outside the Chief Ministers bungalow in protest. People are being arrested everywhere,vehicles are being stopped. Is this a police state? said Congress MP Madhu Yashki Goud.
DGP V Dinesh Reddy denied that police were creating obstacles. I have appealed to the people to follow the conditions with regard to timing,venue and routes. If anyone breaks the law,we will deal with them strictly, he said.