“A separate Telangana state? By all means, but include all the 13 Seemandhra districts in the new state,” was how anti-Telangana protestors in Visakhapatnam summed up their demand.
During our 800-km journey through the night from Hyderabad to Vijayanagaram – the latest hotspot in Seemandhra —the first road-block came around 5.00am as the car entered Vijayawada.
The activists in Vijayawada – very much in the news during the past few days because of the severe power-cuts – were civil and eager to convey their views on the bifurcation Andhra Pradesh to the “national media”.
But as we entered deep into Seemandhra, anger looked to be the dominant emotion. At Rajahmundry, about halfway between the state capital and Vijayanagaram, the first signs of violence could be seen -- burnt tyres, shards of glass and missing streetlights.
It continued till Visakhapatnam, the only big-scale city in Seemandhra, about 50 km from Vijayanagaram. And the protesters came in all shapes, sizes and backgrounds like 13-year-old Srinivas, who declared: “I want Hyderabad.”
At Mallepalli, about 30 km beyond Rajahmundry on the same highway, a group of students – some armed with lathis – held up traffic. MR Murty, a 19-year-old student, stepped forward as the group spokesman: “Hyderabad gives us jobs and education. If it goes, we’ll be left with nothing.”
And to make their presence felt, they smashed some more streetlights – because “so far, no one listened to us”.
The mood was different in Visakhapatnam district. “We have been out on the streets for two months, but no Delhi newspaper or TV channel looked at us. When there is violence against Sonia Gandhi’s man Botsa Satyanarayana (the much-maligned state Congress chief), you came running,” said school teacher G Rajeswari.
Durga Prasad, a local farmer, was very clear why he didn’t want Telangana. “We will not get water if Telangana happens, and this prosperous region will become barren in a few years.” All the major rivers flow from Telangana to Seemandhra.