The stage is set for a possible showdown between police and Telangana protesters in Hyderabad on Thursday as the Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC) has vowed to go ahead with the million march despite ban orders.
In an attempt to foil the march and to prevent people from reaching Hyderabad, police in Telangana districts on Wednesday took a large number of activists into preventive custody.
As the police have denied permission to TJAC for the million march, barricades have been put up in nine districts and on the outskirts of Hyderabad to prevent activists joining the protest.
The TJAC, which comprises Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other groups fighting for separate Telangana state, has decided to hold the march of a million supporters to demand a bill in parliament for the creation of the state.
Telangana leaders of the ruling Congress party and main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) are backing the march.
The Telangana Praja Front of Maoist sympathiser Gaddar, students' groups and lawyers' organisations have also announced support.
Police in Nizamabad, Warangal, Adilabad, Karimnagar, Medak and other districts have arrested scores of TJAC activists heading to Hyderabad to participate in the march.
Prohibitory orders banning the assembly of four or more persons have been imposed in Hyderabad and Cyberabad police commissionerates.
Additional forces, including the central paramilitary troops, were deployed in the city to maintain law and order and provide security to IT companies.
Police have also imposed traffic restrictions on Tank Bund, the venue of the march, and surrounding areas.
As the state assembly is in session, security was also beefed up at the assembly building and also at other vital installations.
Hyderabad police commissioner AK Khan told reporters that permission was not given for the march as it would throw traffic out of gear and cause inconvenience to people.
But the TJAC maintains that the march needs no permission as it would be a peaceful programme.
It has already scaled down the march plans in view of the ongoing intermediate examinations.
The organisers, who earlier planned to bring the city to a halt through a day-long protest, now want to take out two rallies one each from the Jubilee Bus Station and Sundarayya Vignana Kendra to Tank Bund.
The protesters will stage a sit-in for three hours from 1 pm to draw the attention of the central government to their demand.
TJAC chairman M. Kodandaram has condemned large-scale arrests in the Telangana districts.
"People can protest in Egypt and Tunisia but not in Hyderabad," he asked.
Andhra Pradesh High Court on Tuesday declined to pass any orders to stop the march.
On a petition by the organisers, the state human rights commission Wednesday directed police not to violate human rights while taking steps to foil the march.
A group of TDP legislators also met Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, urging him to ask police not to carry out arrests or suppress the peaceful protest.