Violence, arson mark Samaikyandhra bandh in Anantapur
By Express News Service | Published: 01st August 2013 09:12 AM |
Violence and arson broke out in Anantapur with Samaikyandhra protagonists going on a rampage and damaging statues of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, commercial establishments, government offices, and engaged police in a pitched battle for more than four hours on Wednesday protesting against the bifurcation of state.
The police found themselves on the defensive with inadequate personnel as majority of the forces have been dispatched to the poll-bound areas of the district. Additional forces have to be rushed to the town and they had to lob tear gas shells and have also reportedly opened fire into the air to disperse the rampaging mob.
It all began with YSRC MLA B Gurunath Reddy leading a rally from the party office at 9.30 a.m with just a handful of his supporters. As the rally went on to the main roads, the crowds swelled. By 11 a.m, the handful of supporters grew into thousands and the streets were filled with sloganeering crowd, mostly youth and students, who went berserk.
The protestors set tyres on fire placed boulders on all roads disrupting the traffic.
The agitators went on a rampage at the Clock Tower and damaged whatever they can from hoardings, dust bins, banners of commercial establishments, film posters and set them on fire and pulled down the traffic police outposts and also the advertisement hoardings on the medians.
It was the statues of former prime ministers late Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi which more the brunt of the mob.
The statues were garlanded with slippers, beaten with sticks and set on fire. All the while, the policemen watched helplessly and were seen requesting the mob not to resort to arson. The protestors pulled down the statues and dragged it for some distance on the main road. They later set them on fire.
The furniture in ZP office, MRO office and a post office were also damaged.
The rampage went on for more than an hour before additional forces reached the town. District SP S Syam Sunder and other senior officials swung into action and by afternoon, the streets in Anantapur resembled a battle field. Police and the protestors were engaged in a pitched battle with both sides raining stones and the police using force to disperse the mob.
Tear gas shells were lobbed and even fire was opened into the air to quell the mob. After nearly four hours, the police could bring the situation under control but sporadic incidents are still going on.
Elsewhere in Rayalaseema region the bandh was partial and peaceful.
While all educational institutes and commercial establishments voluntarily downed their businesses, the agitators obstructed the movement of buses in Tirupati.
Mild tension prevailed at RTC bus station when some of the Samaikyandhra JAC activists poured petrol on a parked car and set it ablaze. However, the alert police immediately informed the fire staff, who rushed to the spot and brought the flames under control.
Tirupati MLA B Karunaka Reddy staged a protest at the Gandhi statue.
In Kadapa no major incidence of violence was reported with heavy deployment of police and paramilitary forces.
Protestors burnt Sonia Gandhi in effigy while the bandh was near total. The window panes of some buses and couple of ATM centres were damaged while a Samaikyandhra supporter, Venkateswara Reddy of Simhapuri Colony in the town, climbed the BSNL tower threatening to jump from there. The efforts of police to bring him down failed but he came down after his eight-year son also climbed the tower and threatened to jump along with him.
In Chittoor all commercial activity came to a standstill and educational institutions were closed. RTC buses were confined to depots with employees to joining the protests.
Protestors stopped Tirupati-Guntakal passenger at Pakala railway station for nearly two hours.
In Nellore railway station, agitators detained the Chennai-bound Patna express for 15 minutes. At Gandhi statue centre in Trunk road, students blocked the road for 30 minutes and they climbed atop city buses and raised slogans against UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.