HYDERABAD: The dramatic sight of an angry mob pelting stones at police personnel, the horrific sounds of police lathis being lunged at protestors and the ubiquitous stench of tear gas bombs marked TSRTC JAC’s ‘Chalo Tank Bund’ protest on Saturday.
The agitation’s resemblance to the violent protests during the Telangana Statehood agitation before 2014 was uncanny. According to data released by the police, around 2,500 protesters were picked up and detained from various parts of the city even before they could get to Tank Bund.
Needless to say, it must not have been an easy task to shatter the barricades and get past the police bandobast deployed at the protest site. However, groups of angry protesters kept swarming in from various corners of the areas surrounding Tank Bund in an attempt to hoodwink the police. They tried to get to the protest site from three major junctions, namely the NTR Circle, Basheerbagh and Lower Tank Bund.
The first line of protestors came in around 1 pm via the NTR circle, where the least number of police personnel was deployed. They then made a run for Dr BR Ambedkar’s statue. However, they were stopped by the police before they could reach the statue. Even as police were engaging with them, a different group of protestors barged into the site via Basheerbagh, splitting the core force’s attention. Another group headed towards Hussainsagar in a bid to distract the forces.
Employing these tactics throughout the day, protestors tried to manoeuvre through the concertina wires, heavy police force, and metal barricades. In fact, every time the personnel attempted to grab protestors and push them into detaining vans, bands of women protestors shielded them, and threw themselves on the ground, sloganeering. With Hyderabad police having very negligible women workforce in uniform, it proved a tough task for them to control the women protesters.
Over two hours into the protest, the number of agitators swelled so much that the police had to resort to excessive use of baton power to control them. Soon, hundreds of protesters dared the lathis, while others began pelting stones at the police. Following this, the police brought out their Vajra vehicles and initiated the firing of tear gas bombs to disperse the crowds towards the AV College.
They (govt) have no other option but to arrest us workers to dissuade our protest. This is the compulsion they have. But our workers came in large numbers and made this protest a success
Ashwathama Reddy, JAC convenor
Despite deploying a large contingent of security, protestors were able to reach Tank Bund. This a moral victory for RTC workers. Congress will continue to support the protesting workers Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, CLP leader
While the government has refused to listen to our requests, it is now instigating the police force against us. "What is the meaning of this insensitive bashing of the protesters?" Woman protester asked a senior police officer
Congress irked by preventive arrests
Congress leaders have taken a strong objection at being arrested before every agitation in Telangana and alleged that the govt was preventing them from registering their protest on purpose. The party will meet the Home Minister and DGP and lodge a complaint regarding preventive arrests