Pro-Telangana activists setting fire to a police vehicle. Photo: PTI
HYDERABAD: The 'million march to Hyderabad' called by Telangana supporters today turned violent with two ruling Congress MPs and mediapersons coming under attack and several statues of Telugu legends being vandalised.
Defying prohibitory orders and removing barricades and barbed wire, thousands of Telangana supporters marched to the Tank Bund road here, on the banks of picturesque Hussain Sagar lake, during the massive protest called by the Telangana political Joint Action Committee (JAC).
Police detained hundreds of Telangana supporters during the last couple of days and regulated public transport buses and passenger trains to prevent the protesters from reaching the city as part of efforts to maintain law and order.
Shops and other commercial establishments remained closed especially on the roads near the State Secretariat and Legislative Assembly.
However, about 20,000 people gathered on the about three-km-long Tank Bund Tank road.
Several MLAs and other leaders from all major political parties including TDP, TRS and BJP and JAC were taken into custody by police.
Congress MPs K Keshav Rao and Madhu Yashki Goud, who came to participate in the event, were attacked with water bottles, chappals and had to leave the place.
Goud said a wrong impression has been created among Telangana supporters that a Constitutional crisis triggered by resignations of leaders would pave way for formation of separate Telangana.
The attack could have been done by such people who believed so, he added.
'Jai Telangana' slogans, songs and drum-beats hailing Telangana reverberated on the Tank Bund road. The Telangana supporters, including TRS president K Chandrasekhar Rao and senior BJP leader Bandaru Dattatreya, took a pledge to work for separate Telangana.
Several mediapersons, vehicles and other equipment like cameras came under attack of the angry crowds. A woman reporter and few other mediapersons were allegedly attacked and the cameras were thrown into the lake.
Some police vehicles were set on fire and the statues of some great Telugu personalities were vandalised. Parts of the damaged statues were thrown into the lake.
Telangana supporters have often complained that great personalities from Telangana were ignored and those from non- Telangana regions got importance while statues were installed.
"After the departure of the main political leaders of JAC at about 5 pm, a splinter group of about 1,000 persons belonging to IFTU (Indian Federation of Trade Unions) remained on the Tank Bund and surged towards police and indulged in heavy stone-pelting. Police dispersed the group by lobbing tear gas shells.
"The dispersing groups attacked some establishments, including DWAKRA building on lower tank bund road and set it on fire," a release from the DGP office said.
The attacks on the Congress MPs, mediapersons and the vandalism of the statues have been condemned in strong words by Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, TDP, BJP, journalists unions and even the TRS.
The Telangana supporters ended the 'march' after the pledge and the attacks on mediapersons are unfortunate and painful, TRS president K Chandrasekhar Rao said.
Describing the 'march' as a success, Telangana political JAC convener M Kodandaram said it reflected the aspirations of people of the region.
The attacks on Congress MPs and statues is not justifiable but it could have been done by the people in anger, he said, adding that policemen in plain-clothes could have been behind the attacks.
Meanwhile, the students of the Osmania University clashed with policemen when they were prevented from marching to the Tank Bund road.
The angry students uprooted and damaged some gates and threw stones at the security personnel who lobbed tear gas shells to disperse them.