Hundreds of Telangana statehood activists, including MPs and legislators, were arrested on Saturday as they disrupted train services across the region during a three-day rail blockade campaign that began on Saturday.
Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) president K Chandrasekhar Rao, who has spearheaded the Telangana statehood movement, did not participate in the ‘Rail Roko’ campaign. But his son and TRS legislator KT Rama Rao was arrested, along with Congress MPs Manda Jagannatham, Ponnam Prabhakar, K Rajaiah, G Vivek, and TRS legislator Harish Rao and MPs Kavitha and Vijayashanti.
Several agitators were booked under non-bailable sections of the Railway Act of 1989, which provides for a minimum jail term of 10 years. Central government forces had been mobilised to protect railway property. A helicopter was deployed to conduct an aerial survey of the Telangana region.
The helicopter had high-resolution cameras to capture the movement of agitators, the police said. Protesters squatted on the tracks throughout the day, cooked food, played games and sang Telangana folk songs. In some places, people parked bullock carts on tracks.
At Hyderabad’s Osmania University, pro-Telangana students retaliated by pelting stones at policemen after they were denied permission to take out a rally from the campus. Police resorted to baton charging and fired teargas shells.
Railways cancelled 136 trains in view of the blockade.