Seemandhra’s streets turned into battlefields on Sunday as anti-Telangana protesters defied curfew and shoot-at-sight orders to clash with the police.
Police confront supporters of united Andhra Pradesh during a protest against the formation of Telangana state, in Kurnool district some 200 kms from Hyderabad. (AFP Photo)
Deepening the crisis, electricity department employees struck work, plunging large parts of the region into darkness.
Curfew was imposed in Vizianagaram town — fast turning into the epicenter of the anti-bifurcation movement — after day-long violence on Saturday.
But despite the prohibitory orders, Sunday — Day 3 of a shutdown of Seemandhra (comprising coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema) — saw protesters pelt security forces with stones and the troops retaliate by firing rubber bullets and in the air.
According to media reports, 20 policemen and 30 protesters were injured. Dozens of agitators were arrested.
Protesters continued to target state Congress chief Botsa Satyanarayana’s properties. The coastal Andhra town has been roiling since the union cabinet's October 3 decision to carve out a separate Telangana state out of Andhra.
Power supply to all 13 districts of Seemandhra was hit by the strike called by electricity employees’ associations.
They had announced Saturday that 70,000 workers of transmission, generation and distribution companies would go on an indefinite stir.
Power production at the Kadapa and Vijayawada thermal units and Srisailam hydro units was hit.
Further tripping could affect the entire southern grid, the employees said. Some media reports said even neighbouring Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala were affected.
Power supply to Tirumala was severed in the morning but later restored following talks with striking employees.
As a result of the power situation, the South Central Railway cancelled the Jan Shatabdi Express running between Chennai Central and Vijayawada, scheduled to leave the city on Monday.
Similarly, Monday's Chennai Central-Gudur Passenger, Vijayawada-Chennai Central Pinakini Express and Bitragunta-Chennai Central Passenger have also been cancelled.
Former Andhra Pradesh chief minister and Telugu Desam Party chief Chandrababu Naidu Telugu Desam will go on an indefinite hunger-strike in the national capital from Monday to protest against the bifurcation of the state.
In Hyderabad, YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy, who has taken a centre-stage in the renewed stir, continued his hunger strike on the second day on Sunday.
He started an indefinite fast on Saturday morning, while blaming Congress president Sonia Gandhi for engineering the state’s division. He said Sonia “had an eye on votes from Andhra Pradesh just to crown her son Rahul as the next PM”.
A group of NGOs declared they would target central government offices on October 17, 18 and 19.
Protests and demonstrations are on in university campuses too. An advocate’s forum has called for a social boycott of Congress legislators for having failed to stop the bifurcation.