The 48-hour shutdown called by the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) demanding a separate state of Telangana in Andhra Pradesh crippled normal life in Hyderabad and nine other districts of the region Sunday as party chief K Chandrasekhara Rao's fast-unto-death entered the eighth day.
Tension prevailed in the region as policemen were deployed in huge numbers to prevent violence during the shutdown, which began on Saturday midnight.
Thousands of passengers were stranded as the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) suspended all bus services within the region and services to other regions passing through Telangana.
Shops, business establishments, cinema theatres and petrol bunks remained closed in Hyderabad and other parts of Telangana, causing severe inconvenience to the public. Motorists had a harrowing time as several petrol bunks downed shutters even before the shutdown began while hundreds of vehicles were lined up at some bunks till midnight in Hyderabad.
There was a scramble at ATMs as people rushed to withdraw money before the shutdown. The ATMs of several banks ran out of cash.
In Hyderabad and elsewhere life came to a complete halt as the day is also being observed as "black day" and Muslim organisations have given a call for a shutdown to mark the anniversary of the demolition of Babri Masjid. Police have banned the assembly of five or more people in the state capital.
The Telangana shutdown is the second called by TRS since the arrest of Chandrasekhara Rao a week ago. The day-long shutdown on Monday last had paralysed life in the region and was marred by sporadic incidents of violence.
With protesters targeting public and private property over the last few days, police have gone on high alert to prevent violence during the shutdown.
TRS workers Saturday went on the rampage here attacking shops and buses near Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS), where KCR, as TRS president is popularly known, is continuing his fast-unto-death.
With rumours that KCR slipped into coma triggering Saturday's violence, NIMS authorities were briefing the media about KCR's condition regularly. They said early Sunday that KCR was in the intensive care unit but was out of danger.
KCR, who is in judicial custody, continued his fast for the eighth day Sunday. Rejecting Chief Minister K. Rosaiah's fresh appeal to call off the fast, the TRS chief said he would not break the fast unless the government gives categorical assurance on carving out a separate state.
A group of ministers belonging to Telangana region Sunday called on KCR at NIMS. He, however, refused to talk to them saying he would speak to only those who can take a decision on the issue.
With TRS cadres and students mounting pressure on public representatives of the Congress party by laying siege to their houses, the central leadership of the party is also coming under pressure to take a clear stand on Telangana.
KCR was arrested on Nov 29 by the police near Karimnagar town when he was heading to Siddipet town in Medak district for launching fast unto death. He was taken to Khammam town, where a court sent him to jail for 14 days.
The TRS chief launched the fast in jail and was shifted to a government-run hospital in the town the next day. He, however, broke the fast the same day after three people committed suicide protesting his arrest.
Angry reaction by the sympathisers of Telangana movement forced KCR to resume the fast on Tuesday. He was shifted to Hyderabad early Thursday.