Samaikyandhra protestors booed and jeered Congress Rajya Sabha member V Hanumantha Rao and attacked his vehicle at Aliprii in Tirupati on Saturday.
The protestors threw stones and footwear at Hanumantha Rao’s vehicle while he was returning to Tirupati after offering prayers at Tirumala shrine. He was on his away to the airport when the incident took place.
Earlier in the day, he said that Andhra employees should leave Hyderabad and return to Andhra in accordance with rules in force after the formation of Telangana state. “If any employee wants to live there, he should first resign from government service,” he said, which apparently made the activists angry.
Telangana Congress leaders and TRS functionaries condemned the attack on the senior leader. TRS leader T Harish Rao wanted to know whether Samaikyandhra meant attacking Telangana leaders. “What will happen if we retaliate?” Harish Rao asked, while panchayat raj minister K Jana Reddy took strong exception to the attack. “It is not proper to resort to physical attacks. Before attacking, Samaikyandra activists should keep in mind who are more in number in which region,” he warned.
It all began when 100 activists from different organisations gathered at Alipiri at 10 am, learning that Rao would be reaching Tirupati from Tirumala. With demonstrators gathering at Alipiri, the police too arrived in full strength to prevent any trouble, besides the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel, who are posted there.
After keeping them waiting for about three hours, Hanumantha Rao descended the hills in his Innova and reached Alipiri at 1 pm. As soon as his car was sighted, the demonstrators rushed to it raising “Samaikyandhra’ slogans. The police also went after them trying to disperse them and make way for Hanumantha Rao’s car to move forward.
A few activists lay on the road in front of the car to prevent it from moving forward. As the activists were creating trouble outside, Hanumatnha Rao sat inside his vehicle. When they kept banging on his car doors to accept flower bouquets, Hanumatnh Rao then raised the window and moved forward even as the activists kept running ahead of the vehicle to stop it.
The police pushed them away, but they would not give up. As the situation was getting out of control, the police lathi-charged the crowd. Enraged over the police action, they threw slippers at the car while others threw stones and some broke the window panes of the car.
A stone hit one constable on his head. The driver of VHR’s vehicle managed to shake the agitators off and speed towards the airport.
An angry Hanumantha Rao later asked: “Do I a need a visa to visit Tirumala? Why were they attacking me? Does attacking mean Samaikyandhra?” He wanted to know why they do not understand that it was the late YSR who was responsible for the demand for Telangana state to gain momentum. “It is because of your Rayalaseema leader that the Congress has decided to deliver Telangana. Why are you targeting us?” he asked.
Tirupati Urban Superintendent of Police SV Rajasekhar Babu said that cases would be registered against those who attacked Hanumantha Rao’s car. “We will take action against the culprits. We have identified them too. We have booked cases under several sections,” he said.