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Legislators protest over police firing in Andhra, suspended

Hyderabad, July 15 (Calcutta Tube) The police firing on villagers protesting a thermal power plant in Srikakulam district rocked the Andhra Pradesh assembly Thursday with the speaker suspending opposition legislators for stalling the house.

For the second consecutive day, Speaker Kiran Kumar Reddy suspended 55 legislators of main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the lone member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) when they stalled proceedings demanding the resignation of Revenue Minister Dharmana Prasada Rao.

The speaker announced the suspension of the legislators from the house for one day after Endowments Minister Gade Venkat Reddy moved a resolution.

As the suspended legislators refused to leave the house, the speaker called in marshals to physically lift them out.

The legislators resisted the marshals, leading to scuffles. Angry opposition members uprooted the mikes before being carried out by the marshals.

They later staged protest outside the chambers of Chief Minister K. Rosaiah in the lobby and urged him to sack the revenue minister.

Earlier, the house had to be adjourned twice as TDP members stalled the proceedings and protest near the speaker’s podium, demanding the revenue minister’s resignation for allegedly supporting police action.

Two people were killed when the police opened fire on fishermen and farmers protesting against a proposed thermal power station at Sompeta in Srikakulam district. They alleged that the project would destroy ecology and jeopardise their livelihood.

Earlier, making a statement in the assembly, Home Minister P. Sabita Indra Reddy defended the police firing, saying the police had to fire as a ‘last resort’ and in self defence as the protesters had attacked them with stones.

She said two people were killed in the firing and 145 people, including 37 policemen and six mediapersons, were injured in the violence.

‘As the protesters attacked the police with stones and all the attempts to disperse them proved futile, the police had to open fire in self-defence as a last resort. The police used short weapons like 9 mm pistols and revolvers and did not use rifles or other weapons,’ Sabita Indra Reddy said.

TDP legislator M. Narasimhulu lashed out at the revenue minister and demanded his resignation for stating that nobody can stop the power project.

He also demanded a judicial probe into the police firing, action against the police officers responsible for firing and compensation of Rs.10 lakh each to the families of the deceased.

‘Has the government declared a war on the people by mobilising 3,000 policemen in Sompeta,’ Narasimhulu asked.

He alleged that the government colluded with Nagarjuna Construction Company to build the project at the cost of the livelihood of local people.

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