A day-long shutdown began in Hyderabad and nine other districts of Telangana region on Saturday in response to a call by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of students to protest the terms of reference of the Srikrishna panel on the issue of carving out a state of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh.
Shops and business establishments remained closed while state-owned Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation suspended bus services in the region.
Activists of Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took to the streets at several places, staging demonstrations and blocking vehicles. The protesters turned violent at some places in Warangal and Medak districts, damaging buses and attacking the offices of the Congress party, police said.
As a preventive measure, police arrested dozens of pro-Telangana leaders since Friday night.
Anticipating violent protests by students, police and paramilitary forces have been deployed at Osmania University campus here. The campus has been the nerve centre of the agitation for a separate state.
The students' JAC, which has given call for the shutdown, is likely to stage protests at the university later Saturday. The shutdown call has been backed by by the JAC of all political parties.
All 10 legislators of TRS will submit their resignations to assembly speaker later in the day. TRS chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao has already announced that both MPs, 10 MLAs and the lone MLC would quit to protest the terms of reference, which are "not favourable to formation of Telangana state".
The all-party JAC will meet later Saturday to take a decision on mass resignations. While several Telugu Desam Party (TDP) legislators have expressed their willingness to quit, the opinion in the ruling Congress party is divided. Congress legislators said they would take a decision at the JAC meeting, which will also decide future course of the agitation.
JAC convenor M. Kodandaram has rejected the terms of reference saying they were against the Dec 9 statement by the central government to initiate the process for formation of Telangana state.
According to the seven terms of reference announced by the central government Friday, the five-member panel will consider both the demands for separate Telangana state and for maintaining the present status of a united Andhra Pradesh.
The committee, which has been asked to submit its report by Dec 31, is holding its first meeting in New Delhi on Saturday.