Tension gripped Warangal on Monday following an engineering student’s self-immolation, apparently in support of statehood for Telangana. Students came out onto the streets after the news spread, demanding that Congress MLAs and ministers from Telangana must resign their posts and join the struggle for statehood for the region.
Dheeraj Bharadwaj (19), a first-year student of civil engineering at the Warangal Institute of Technology and Sciences at Gurukonda village in Atmakur mandal, went to the college as usual on Monday morning but carrying a bottle of kerosene with him.
Upon reaching the college gate, he wrote a ‘Jai Telangana’ slogan and his parents’ telephone numbers on the wall. Then he made a short speech to his friends and others gathered there. He said he was upset by the contradictory statements being made by Congress elected representatives on the Telangana question.
Then, shouting a pro-Telangana slogan, he poured kerosene upon himself and set himself afire.
The people who had been listening to his speech were startled by this turn of events and went to his rescue. They put out the flames and took him to the Mahathma Gandhi Memorial Government General Hospital. The teenager, who hails from Nereducherla in Mulugu Ghanpur, is in a critical condition with 96 percent burns.
When students of Kakatiya University and members of ABVP came to know of the incident, they took out an impromptu march in large numbers. Many of them went to MGM Hospital and staged a sit-in demanding the immediate resignation of Congress ministers, MPs, MLAs and MLCs.
After some time, around 300 students marched from the hospital towards BC welfare minsiter Basavaraju Saraiah’s house to lay siege to it. On the way, they damaged a police vehicle, which triggered a baton charge by the police. Undeterred, the students continued their march and damaged the glass panes of MLC P Padmavathi’s car and two RTC buses. Police rushed to the MLC’s rescue.
On reaching Basavaraju Saraiah’s house, they tried to force their way in but were prevented by the police. There was a cane charge again and and several of the protesters swere taken into custody. With the situation turning tenser and Dheeraj’s condition worse, police sounded a high alert in the city and beefed up security.