Hyderabad: In a major show of strength, thousands of people violated ban orders and removed police barricades to assemble at Tank Bund area here Thursday as part of the ‘million march’ for a separate Telangana state.
The peaceful protest during the day was marred by incidents of violence in the evening.
Protestors damaged some statues of Telugu leaders on Tank Bund, set afire a police vehicle and attacked a vehicle and crew of a television channel.
The incidents, along with the attack on two Congress MPs, took place despite an assurance by the Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC) that it would be a peaceful protest.
Thousands of Telangana activists remained on Tank Bund at 5.30 p.m. though the TJAC had announced that the protest would conclude at 4 p.m.
TJAC convenor M. Kodandaram, who visited Tank Bund in the evening after he was released by police, claimed that the march was a huge success.
Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao also joined the protest and took oath with all the activists to continue their fight for separate state.
The protestors damaged statues of Telugu poets, writers and rulers belonging to Andhra and Rayalaseema regions, evoking strong condemnation from all the parties.
The statues on the banks of Hussain Sagar lake were installed in 1980s by then chief minister N.T. Rama Rao to highlight Telugu culture.
Unmindful of the massive presence of police and paramilitary forces, Telangana activists reached Tank Bund from different directions around 1 p.m. and demanded that the central government introduce a bill in parliament for carving out a separate state.
People from different walks of life voluntarily gathered for the march planned on the lines of pro-democracy protests in Egypt.
Raising slogans of ‘Jai Telangana’, singing pro-Telangana songs and playing games, the protestors, including women, remained on Tank Bund, the three-km-long road along Hussain Sagar Lake linking the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
Activists of various political parties, students, government employees, lawyers, doctors, teachers, journalists, writers and cultural artists were among the protestors.
The protestors, who uprooted barricades put up on both ends of the road, outnumbered policemen and succeeded in holding the march despite the police sealing all the routes leading to the road and arresting thousands of people across Telangana region.
TJAC convenor Kodandaram, along with other leaders, was arrested by police as soon as he was leaving for Tank Bund from TJAC office.
Congress MPs K. Keshava Rao and Madhu Yaskhi, who had reached Tank Bund to participate in the march, faced the ire of protestors. They were attacked with water bottles and other missiles, with demands that they resign.
Both the leaders were forced to leave the venue.
TRS legislator Harish Rao, who gave the slip to the police after being arrested along with other TRS leaders near the assembly, managed to reach Tank Bund in a boat.
TRS chief Chandrasekhara Rao’s legislator son Tarakarama Rao was re-arrested near Tank Bund. Chandrasekhara Rao’s daughter Kavita was also among the protestors.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president Kishan Reddy and senior leader Bandaru Dattatreya also reached Tank Bund, along with hundreds of party workers.
‘The future of coming generations is more important for me than my examination,’ said a student who reached Tank Bund immediately after writing Class 11 exams.
Tension prevailed in the surrounding areas as police arrested legislators and leaders of TRS, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and BJP.
The legislators were arrested at Basheerbagh as they were heading towards Tank Bund in different groups.
Police also arrested 200 students of Veterinary College when they were proceeding towards Tank Bund.