YS Jagan Mohan Reddy was as stoic as ever, with that familiar smile playing on his lips and hands firmly folded in a Namaskar, as he stepped out of Chanchalguda jail on bail here around 4.15 p.m. on Tuesday.
His supporters, who had been waiting for him impatiently since morning, though, just couldn’t contain themselves the moment they saw him and rent the air with thunderous Jai Jagan slogans. It must have been music to his ears but he didn’t show it even if he felt it. Even after rose petals were showered on him.
That was just the beginning. His followers, numbering in thousands, almost 10,000, who had poured in to the State capital, escorted him, cheering him with gusto, in a procession to his posh Lotus Pond residence in Jubilee Hills, bringing Hyderabad to a standstill for hours. It took Jagan a little over five hours to go home. Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, who arrived in the city from New Delhi, too got a feel of the Jagan mania. He reportedly had to wait for sometime at the airport so that his conovy did not clash with Jagan’s while his security staff figured out alternate routes to his camp office at Begumpet. Earlier at the break of dawn, there was a sense of anticipation in the air.
Small groups of men and women converged on the jail by 9 a.m. The South Zone police had set up barricades in and around the jail to block vehicles coming from Malakpet. But they couldn’t prevent Jagan’s supporters from putting up posters and literally flooding the area by afternoon.
Some, including women, argued with the police who had to chase them away to let the traffic flow. Some others whiled away their time dancing and singing. Among those dancing was A Srilakshmi (37), a homemaker from Andhra who had come to the city a couple of days ago.
“We had been praying for his release. We never thought he would be released when we are in the city. Jagan is innocent,” she said, catching her breath.
11-year-old Sai Manish, who was also shaking his leg, bunked classes to see Jagan. “My father is a fan of YSR. So, I like Jagan,” he said and broke into peals of laughter when asked about his classes. As the crowd swelled, the police completely barricaded the area around the jail. Jagan’s uncle, YS Vivekananda Reddy, also arrived but left just a little before his nephew was released. As the clock ticked by, men, women, and children occupied every inch, some even climbing walls of a nearby graveyard to catch a glimpse of their leader.
At 3.45 p.m., the arrival of police vehicles and Jagan’s convoy signalled to them that the moment they had waited for 16 long months was minutes away. They surged forward pushing aside barricades and ran up to the jail gate in a frenzy.
The police had a tough time escorting Jagan to his car. The man himself though greeted everyone and shook hands with some, standing in his vehicle and urging them to give him way. If the police thought, they could simply drive him home from there, they were mistaken. Jagan had other ideas. He turned it into a triumphant rally.
As he inched his way home followed by his jubilant supporters, traffic at Nalgonda cross roads, Chaderghat, Mozamjahi market, Gandhi Bhavan, the Legislative Assembly, Lakdikapul, and Panjagutta was thrown out of gear for hours. He halted at Punjagutta to garland the statue of his late father.