VISAKHAPATNAM: Tension gripped the port city of Visakhapatnam on Republic Day, with police restricting the movement of people, particularly on all routes leading to beach road.
Around 300 youth attempting to stage a silent protest for Special Category Status were taken into custody in various parts of the city. Resenting the restrictions imposed on their free movement and repressing their right to protest for special category status, youth resorted to arguments with police officials, leading to sporadic lathi charge incidents.
At places, students questioned police as to why they were being arrested, when they were protesting peacefully and silently. OSD (Operations) Attada Babujee tried to pacify students. Meanwhile some cops were seen carrying banners with slogans --’Anti social elements are waiting for the opportunity - Please cooperate with police for peace - we are for your safety and security. Political leaders, who were staging protest demonstrations at different places too were arrested.
The port city, which will host Partnership Summit from Friday, is being fortified with large presences of security forces. Around 3000 security personnel were reported to be deployed in the city.
Additional forces were rushed from Ravulapalem in East Godavari district where they were deployed for preventing ‘Kapu Satyagraha Yatra’ by Mudragada Padmanabham. Since morning the beach road and more than half a dozen entry point to it were secured by over 1000 security personnel.
YSRC chief YS Jaganmohan Reddy’s convoy kept ready for his visit in the city were seized and taken to Parawada police station. Actor Sampoornesh Babu and director Tammareddy Bharadwaj, who came to the city to extend solidarity to the youth demanding SCS, were detained when the tried to enter beach road. They were sent back to their hotel and confined there.
Many delegates to CII Summit who were given accommodation at hotels on the beach road were forced to get down the vehicles and walk for a few metres to reach their hotel as vehicles were not being
allowed towards beach road.
Walkers were discouraged in the morning from venturing into the beach in the port city. Locals are resenting the restrictions and are demanding to know why they cannot move about freely on a holiday. Most of the protestors coming out on the roads are students from medical and engineering colleges.
On the other hand, since Wednesday night several political and student leaders in North Andhra were taken into preventive custody. YSRC leader Tammineni Sitaram was arrested in Pydi Bhimavaram in Srikakulam district.
Meanwhile, leaders including YSRC's Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy and P Mithun Reddy were placed under house arrest in Tirupati. Around 100 students and youth were taken into custody and released later.
Some agitators even staged a unique protest by taking out ‘Gangireddulu’ covered with banners with slogans like ‘Pratyeka Hodha - Andhrula Hakku’ (Special Status - Andhras’ Right). Chandragiri MLA
Chevireddy Bhaskar Reddy took out a protest rally for nearly an hour in Pakala. Pawan Kalyan fans took out protest rallies in Anantapur.
In Vijayawada, around 100 students, youth, political activists trying to stage a protest at various places including Prakasam Barrage, KR Market, Padmavati Ghat, Lenin Centre, Ambedkar Statue were picked up by the police. Congress activists staged protest sporting black gags and were arrested. Left party activists were arrested Lenin Centre. Arrested were shifted to different police stations in and around the city.
Finding fault with youth getting out on roads to protests for SCS based on some tweets and provocative statements of the Leader of Opposition YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, ministers and leaders from the
ruling party said there is no need for the protests as Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu is making efforts to do justice to the state in every manner and take it on the development path.
Some ministers like K Atchannaidu even challenged Jaganmohan Reddy for open debate on the issue of development. Union Minister of State YS Chowdary being sarcastic in his comments said Andhras are good at cockfights. Let them also organise swine fights. Why fight for SCS?
Watch video of the protest at GVMC junction in the city below:
Hitting back at Chowdary, Pawan Kalyan tweeted - ‘Regrettable that Union Minister Sujana Chowdary should compare fighting spirit of students with pig fights’. He hailed the fighting spirit of Telugu youth and demanded immediate release of the arrested youth sans any conditions. Jana Sena chief asked the ruling party leaders to refrain from focusing on selfish agenda and think about State’s future. He reiterated his comment of stale laddus being given to the state in the name of the special package.
On the other hand, YS Jaganmohan Reddy, who left for Visakhapatnam from Hyderabad in the evening, was caustic in his criticism of the government and accused it of oppressing the people and stifling
their voice. "The state government is butchering democracy," he said.