WARANGAL/MAHBUBNAGAR:The agitation for formation of new districts took a violent turn on Friday with protesters torching an RTC bus, damaging several other buses, police vans and private vehicles at Jangaon in Warangal district. The traffic on Hyderabad-Warangal highway came to a standstill for a couple of hours as hundreds of protesters staged a road blockade.
Leaders of all opposition parties have pledged their support to Jilla Sadhana Samithi, an umbrella organisation, that has launched an agitation demanding formation of a new district with Jangaon as headquarters.
Tension prevailed at Jangaon as a large number of protestors tried to lay seige to the residence of local MLA Muttireddy Yadagiri Reddy on Hyderabad highway. The protesters also marched to the RDO office. As police tried to stop them, protesters started pelting stones at the police.
The agitators stopped a Palle Velugu bus passing on the NH 163 and set it on fire. They also damaged four other RTC buses and some police vehicles.
Though police tried to use force, the protesters refused to move away and they sat on the highway blocking vehicular movement on the busy stretch.
The protest went on from 10 am to 2 pm and commuters were put to untold hardship as agitators stopped vehicular traffic. The traffic snarl extended for kilometers. There was panic in the air as protesters started pelting stones at police and vehicles passing by. Though police resorted to lathicharge to control the situation, the protesters stayed put on the Warangal - Hyderabad highway.
According to police, about eight persons were arrested in connection with the protests and released on personal bond later.
Jangaon Zilla Sadana Samithi convener R Dashamanth Reddy said leaders cutting across party and caste lines have united demanding district status for Jangoan. Student unions and workers of all political parties are participating in the agitation for the last 15 days, he claimed.
In Mahbubnagar, former minister DK Aruna led a road blockade on the Hyderabad-Bengaluru highway stopping vehicular movement. The protest was staged demanding creation of a separate district with Gadwal as headquarters. The agitation led to traffic chaos and there was a long tailback stretching over a kilometre on the National Highway (NH-44).
Aruna sat on the road at Erravalli cross roads along with her supporters blocking vehicular movement on the highway. Alampur MLA SA Sampath Kumar also sat on the road with the former minister.
Raising slogans against the state government, they demanded that a separate district be carved out with Gadwal as headquarters. Later, police arrested the agitators and shifted them to Itkyala police station. Apart from the two Congress MLAs, a host of activists, politicians and employees union leaders from various mandals participated in the road blockade.
Tension prevailed on the highway as police used force to remove the protesters. Sampath Kumar experienced chest pain after being hit by the elbow of Gadwal CI. The incident took place when the CI was trying to arrest the MLA. He was rushed to Alampur hospital. Meanwhile, the residents of Jurala village launched a relay hunger strike from Friday demanding division status to their mandal Atmakoor.