Police arrested scores of youths here and in other parts of Andhra Pradesh on Thursday as they defied ban orders to stage protests demanding special category status to the state.
Telugu actor Sampoornesh Babu was among those detained as they tried to march towards RK Beach in this coastal city to stage a silent protest called by ‘Andhra Yuvatha’ or Youth of Andhra.
Tension prevailed at YMCA near the beach as about 100 youths holding the national flag and with black cloth tied on their mouth staged the protest.
They carried placards which read ‘Special status is Andhra’s right’.
Police arrested all the protesters for violating prohibitory orders and shifted them to a police station.
A curfew-like situation prevailed at RK Beach, a popular tourist spot, as police sealed all roads and erected barricades to foil the protests that were fuelled by the social media and inspired by the protests in Tamil Nadu over Jallikattu.
Leading actor and Jana Sena leader Pawan Kalyan, some other actors, opposition YSR Congress Party, the Congress, the Left parties and student groups declared their support to the protest to put pressure on the central government to accord the special status.
The YSR Congress Party also plans to hold a candle light protest at RK Beach on Thursday evening.
Members of the opposition YSR Congress Party were arrested in different parts of the city since late Wednesday.
The move comes hours after orders were imposed banning assembly of five or more persons in the limits of all 23 police stations in and around the city.
The police said there was no permission for any meeting, rally or procession.
YSR Congress leader Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy has announced he will lead the protest.
The police at Parvada on the outskirts of Visakhapatnam stopped the escort vehicle and 23 security personnel of the leader of opposition from entering the city.
Reddy, who hoisted the national flag at the party office in Hyderabad to mark the Republic Day, alleged that the TDP government in Andhra Pradesh was using undemocratic means to suppress the peaceful protest.
Activists of opposition parties, youths and students staged protests in Vijayawada, Guntur, Tirupati, Nellore, Anantapur and other places across the state.
Police arrested protesters at Prakasam Barrage in Vijayawada.
Arrests were also made at Nellore and Tirupati. Police dispersed the protesting students at S.V. University in Tirupati.
In Anantapur, state Congress chief Raghuveera Reddy staged a silent protest along with youths after unfurling the national flag.
The opposition accused the BJP of going back on its promise to accord special status.
They flayed the TDP, an ally of BJP-led government, for compromising on the issue.
Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, however, said the opposition parties were trying to create disturbances to disrupt the Partnership Summit beginning in Visakhapatnam on Friday.