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Opposition blocks Andhra highways to push for special status demand

Protesters blocked all crossings on all major highways in Andhra Pradesh, including the Chennai-Kolkata, Visakhapatnam-Raipur, Vijayawada-Hyderabad and Hyderabad-Bengaluru highway.

india Updated: Mar 22, 2018 19:56 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
Andhra Pradesh,Andhra special status,TDP
Members of various political parties in a protest rally demand for special status for Andhra Pradesh on Thursday. (HT Photos)

Thousands of commuters and vehicles were stranded and inter-state travel hit in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday, with opposition calling for a “national highway blockade” in support of its demand for a special status for the state.

The ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which has moved a no-confidence motion against the Modi government after walking out of the ruling alliance, too, backed the 10am-12pm blockade that choked several entry points.

In a teleconference in the morning, chief minister and TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu asked party leaders to support the agitation and participate in protest rallies wearing black badges.

“If the Centre does not address the genuine demand of the people, it is going to turn into a massive movement in the coming days and shake the government,” said Chalasani Srinivas, the leader of a joint action committee of political parties and citizen groups.

The Pratyeka Hoda Vibhajana Hameela Sadhana Samithi (committee to achieve special category status and promises made in bifurcation act) is an umbrella grouping of the YSR Congress, Congress, Jana Sena and Left parties. Several student, employee and worker outfits, too, are a part of the committee.

The BJP stayed away from the protest.

Police issued a travel advisory and came out with alternative routes for all major cities to save students who are writing school exams the inconvenience.

JAC members blocked all crossings on all major highways including the Chennai-Kolkata, Visakhapatnam-Raipur, Vijayawada-Hyderabad and Hyderabad-Bengaluru highway.

Snaking queues of buses and trucks were seen at several entry points, as protesters squatted on the roads and shouted slogans against the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The 975-km stretch of the National Highway 16 that runs from Ichapuram bordering Odisha to Tada in Nellore district on Tamil Nadu border was the worst hit, with JAC members blocking all junctions. NH-16 connects West Bengal in the east to Tamil Nadu in the south.

Naidu, who faces election in 2019, quit the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance a week ago in protest against the Centre’s failure to accord special status to Andhra, a promise that was made when Telangana state was carved out of its northern areas in 2014.

The Centre has ruled out special status that would have allowed Andhra a greater share of aid from the Union government, which says the state has been compensated adequately.

First Published: Mar 22, 2018 16:50 IST