Protests planned in 300 world cities as Amaravati agitation nears 200 days
Thousands of non-resident Telugus in the US and other countries are planning demonstrations on July 3 to express their solidarity with the farmers of Amaravati, the present capital city of Andhra Pradesh, as their agitation against the trifurcation of the state capital completes 200 days.
More than 24,000 farmers of Amaravati capital region have been on the warpath ever since the YSR Congress Party government in the state, led by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, announced on December 17 last year about creating three capitals – executive capital at Visakhapatnam, legislative capital at Amaravati and judicial capital at Kurnool.
These farmers belonging to 29 villages - who gave away nearly 34,000 acres of their fertile land to the capital city during the previous Telugu Desam Party regime in 2015 - strongly resisted the move, asserting that they had sacrificed their livelihood in anticipation of the development of a world-class capital city in Amaravati.
“For the last 200 days, these farmers have been waging a relentless battle demanding that the capital be retained at Amaravati. They took out rallies, held relay hunger strikes, blocked the national highways and braved arrests and lathi attacks from the police. Some of the farmers died of heart attacks due to psychological pressure,” prominent Telugu businessman Jayaram Komati told HT over the phone from California.
Komati, who was former president of Telugu Association of North America (TANA) and former special representative of AP government for North America, said representatives of non-resident Telugu associations in the US had decided to stage demonstrations in as many as 200 cities, in support of the 200 days’ agitation by Amaravati farmers to retain their capital city.
“We thought of taking up huge rallies, but because of Covid-19 pandemic, we won’t be able to get permission for the same. So, we decided to restrict our protests by taking out candle-light rallies in these cities to convey our solidarity to the fighting farmers of Amaravati,” Komati said.
He said on coming to know about the proposal, Telugus in several other cities had also come forward to hold rallies. “Similarly, Andhra people in other countries like Singapore, Thailand, Australia, England and New Zealand have also evinced interest in similar demonstrations. In all, the protests are likely to take place in 300 cities,” the NRI businessman said.
He reminded that the NRIs were not against the Jagan government, but were only demanding that the capital city be retained in Amaravati. “We strongly feel that there should be decentralisation of development, but centralised administration,” he said.
The NRI Telugus had contributed to the building of the state capital. When former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu launched a campaign – My Brick, My Amaravati – aimed at selling “electronic bricks” to build Amaravati, they responded in huge numbers.
The TANA collected donations from its community members in the US and Canada under ‘My Brick, My Amaravati campaign’ and presented the collected donations to the previous TDP government. More than 2.28 lakh NRI donors purchased nearly 58 lakh bricks sold online, each at a cost of Rs 10.
Komati said the Andhra NRIs would continue to help the agitating farmers of Amaravati financially and morally to help them fight a legal battle against the decision to shift the capital. “We shall use all our resources and influences to see that the capital is retained at Amaravati,” he said.