Over 1,000 people have been taken into preventive custody in connection with the agitation by supporters of united Andhra Pradesh even as the protests continued for the eighth consecutive day on Wednesday a senior police official said.
Also, 221 persons were arrested so far and as many as 124 criminal cases were registered against the protesters in Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra districts in the wake of the Samaikyandhra agitation over the past one week, under specific sections of the IPC and other Acts, Additional Director General (Law and Order) of Police VSK Kaumudi said on Wednesday.
The protesters were charged with offences like damage to statues of national leaders, buses (both APSRTC and private buses) and public property, besides, rioting and assault. For the cases pertaining to damage to statues of national leaders, 39 cases have been registered and 94 accused have been arrested, the ADG said.
Damage to statues is an insult to the memory of national leaders.
It is bound to provoke strong reaction and also cause animosity between different groups, the official said, adding in view of this police has invoked specific provisions of law, including section 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) of IPC.
Police urged the local community to co-operate with them in protecting the statues, which they themselves had installed, out of respect and affection for national leaders.
It was also noticed that certain vested interests were indulging in mudslinging against the police personnel, Kaumudi said and warned that such acts would be viewed seriously and the offenders could be liable for stringent criminal action.
"Police department is apolitical and works without any discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, religion and region," Kaumudi pointed out.
All district superintendents of police have also been advised to take prompt preventive action to control the law and order situation and not to allow it to deteriorate, he said.
During the agitation, Seemandhra supporters allegedly damaged statues of former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi and even burnt them at different places in Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra even as police had earlier warned them against such acts.
Meanwhile, the protests against the move to create separate Telangana state entered eighth day today with protesters including scores of students taking out rallies, staging demonstrations on roads and raising slogans in support of united state.
The protests were reported in Chittoor, Anantapur, Kurnool, Kadapa, besides in Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Nellore, Krishna, Guntur districts.