Hyderabad locks down as students begin rally for Telangana

Hyderabad, Feb 20 (Calcutta Tube) High tension prevailed at the Osmania University campus here Saturday as hundreds of students began a march towards the state assembly over the Telangana issue even as police tightened security, closed several roads to traffic and cancelled local trains to foil their plan.

Violating prohibitory orders, the students began the rally at Arts College on the university campus but were stopped by the police at Vidyanagar, just outside the campus and about 15 km from the assembly building.

Raising slogans of ‘Jai Telangana’ amid drumbeats, the students tried to force their way through several barricades.

Over 1,000 students had planned to lay siege to the assembly, demanding the resignation of all elected representatives from Telangana over the demand for separate statehood.

Earlier, the students damaged window panes of vice chancellor Tirupati Rao’s car when he tried to persuade them not to take out a rally. Rao advised students to hold a peaceful protest within the campus.

Nizam College near the assembly complex was also tense as police closed the gates of the college and hostel to prevent students from coming out. A similar situation prevailed at City College in the old city where students were prevented from taking out a rally by police.

All roads leading to the assembly complex in the heart of the city and routes out of Osmania University were sealed by police, at least five flyovers were closed and restrictions were imposed across the city. The university is considered the hotbed of the Telangana movement.

Unprecedented security was in place as 20,000 personnel from police and paramilitary forces were deployed and prohibitory orders were imposed in Hyderabad and Cyberabad police commissionerates.

The police have declared ‘illegal’ the proposed rally by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Osmania University students to the assembly. The JAC is demanding the resignation of all elected representatives from Telangana to force the central government to immediately initiate the process for the formation of a separate Telangana state to be carved out of Andhra Pradesh.

All roads in a three-kilometre radius around the assembly building wore a deserted look.

Only vehicles of police, ministers, legislators and mediapersons were seen plying on the roads.

The assembly session began at 9 a.m. and Chief Minister K. Rosaiah is to present the budget in the afternoon.

Hyderabad Police Commissioner A.K. Khan told reporters that anybody violating the law would be dealt with strongly. He appealed to students from other districts not to come to Hyderabad for the rally.

Police erected barricades on roads connecting the city to other Telangana districts. Authorities also stopped several trains on the Hyderabad-Warangal route, apparently to prevent students of Warangal’s Kakatiya University from reaching Hyderabad. Police, however, claimed that trains were stopped after a bomb threat.

South Central Railway cancelled almost all MMTS local trains in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

The traffic restrictions across the city caused severe inconvenience to people. School and college students and office-goers had a tough time as the diversion of vehicles caused traffic jams at several points.

Besides deployment of the entire 10,000-strong city police force, an equal number of security personnel from other parts of the state, neighbouring states and paramilitary forces were mobilised.

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