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Behind Andhra district renaming row, deepening caste, regional faultlines

Caught in a difficult situation, the Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSRCP government asserted that it will not roll back its proposal to rename the new Konaseema district after Ambedkar.

Written by Sreenivas Janyala | Hyderabad |
Updated: May 26, 2022 7:24:25 am
Violence broke out in Amalapuram, Konaseema district, on Tuesday. (File)

A day after violent clashes and arson swept through Amalapuram in Andhra Pradesh over renaming of the newly-created Konaseema district after Dr B R Ambedkar, there was an uneasy calm in the town that remained under curfew.

Konaseema SP K Subba Reddy said over 200 persons have been detained or arrested for the Tuesday violence in the district headquarter, where protesters clashed with the police and torched police vehicles, buses and the houses of transport minister P Viswarup and the ruling YSRCP MLA from Mummidivaram, P Satish.

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Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police K V Rajendranath Reddy said, “10 IPS officers including an IG and SPs from neighbouring regions have been moved along with several companies of police personnel to Amalapuram and other parts of the district to maintain law and order”.

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He said, “Dalit groups sought permission today to protest against Tuesday’s violence but we convinced them not to hold any protests. We told them that we are identifying each and every person who participated in the violence and are in the process of registering cases so they do not have to protest… So far we have registered 7 FIRs and have detained or arrested several people.’’

Caught in a difficult situation, the Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSRCP government asserted that it will not roll back its proposal to rename the new Konaseema district after Ambedkar.

Carved out of East Godavari district, Konaseema is among 13 new districts announced by the YSRCP government early last month. The state government issued a notification in this regard on May 18. However, the renaming proposal has been opposed by sections of other communities, especially Kapus and some Backward Classes (BCs) groups, who are demanding that the tourist region’s traditional name Konaseema should be retained.


Some of the organisations dominated by BCs and Kapus – such as Konaseema Parirakshana Samithi, Konaseema Sadhana Samiti and Konaseema Udyama Samiti – had been holding protests for the past several days.

Veteran CPI leader C K Narayana says the move has united the BCs and Kapus as “they do not want their district’s name to be associated with the Dalit icon”. While SCs and STs make up, respectively, nearly 19% and 5% of the district’s population, the remaining population is made up mainly of Kapus and BCs, with Kapus being the most dominant caste in the erstwhile East Godavari district.

However, apart from caste politics, there are also concerns being expressed by a section of local residents that renaming Konaseema would “take away the traditional identity of the region”.“The opposition is not against Dr Ambedkar, but against erasing the identity of the region. If you say you are from Dr Ambedkar district you may have to explain the geographical location but if you say Konaseema, not only Telugu people but many others will also know,’’ a student, who did not want to be named, said.

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First published on: 26-05-2022 at 02:45:00 am

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