HYDERABAD: A violent showdown involving stone pelting, lathi charge and firing of tear gas marked Day 36 of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) employees’ strike, as a mob of thousands tore down police barricades and laid siege to Tank Bund here on Saturday.
The police, however, thwarted the protesters’ plan to conduct a ‘million march’, along the lines of the one held during the agitation for statehood in 2011, by resorting to lathi-charge. Some of the agitators then pelted stones at the police, who reciprocated by firing tear gas.
The protest was part of the ‘Chalo Tank Bund’ call given by the TSRTC Joint Action Committee (JAC), and supported by opposition political parties and civil society organisations.
Some of the protesters, according to Hyderabad Commissioner of Police Anjani Kumar, were members of frontal organisations of the banned CPI (Maoist) such as the CPI (ML) New Democracy. Kumar condemned the use of stones to attack police personnel.
Despite setting up barricades and trying their best to fortify Tank Bund, the police were pushed back in the afternoon, as waves of protesters started pouring in around 1 pm.
Within the next two hours, the situation deteriorated into a full-fledged showdown, with TSRTC employees, political party workers, members of student organisations and police personnel suffering injuries.
Several protesters and police personnel were seen bruised and bleeding as they were being ferried away for medical attention.
Some enraged protestors trying to reach Tank Bund from Basheerbagh and the Lower Tank Bund area started pelting stones at the police. In retaliation, the cops fired tear gas shells to disperse them.
The police had earlier taken preemptive steps against the agitators by holding many TSRTC JAC and political party leaders in preventive custody.
Tank Bund, nevertheless, witnessed its first violent clash between protesters and the police since the formation of the state of Telangana. The showdown lasted more than three hours.