Telangana protests continue, student attempts self-immolation (Roundup)

Hyderabad, Feb 20 (Calcutta Tube) Osmania University and surrounding areas remained tense Saturday as students continued protests after one of their colleagues attempted self-immolation over the Telangana demand even as unprecedented security foiled plans by the students to lay siege to the state assembly.

S. Yadaiah, a student of intermediate second year (Class 12), set himself ablaze at the main entrance of Osmania University as police prevented students from marching towards the assembly in the heart of the capital, to lay siege demanding resignation of all elected representatives from Telangana.

The youth, a student of Noble College, poured kerosene, set himself ablaze and tried to run towards the police barricade shouting ‘Jai Telangana’ as hundreds of people watched in horror.

The 19-year-old suffered serious burn injuries and was admitted to Apollo DRDO Hospital where his condition is stated to be critical.

In a suicide note, he wrote that he was taking the extreme step to protest the delay in formation of Telangana state. The youth hails from Ranga Reddy district.

Hundreds of students and Telangana supporters reached the hospital. Home Minister P. Sabita Indra Reddy, who visited the hospital, had to face slogan-shouting protesters. Police, however, escorted the minister.

The incident heightened tension at Osmania University, the hotbed of the agitation, as hundreds of students again tried to march forward but were pushed back by police and paramilitary forces.

Earlier, hundreds of students began marching from the university campus to the assembly complex.

Violating prohibitory orders, they began the rally at Arts College on the university campus but were stopped by 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 200 students were arrested at three different places in the city as thousands of policemen and traffic restrictions across the city foiled the march to the assembly.

Police resorted to baton charge and used tear gas to disperse protesters at Tarnaka near the university Saturday evening. Police used force after students threw stones during protests.

Protesters also set ablaze three buses at Jamia Osmania railway station near the university campus.

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 the students to hold a peaceful rally 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. Over 100 students were taken into custody.

Students of PG College at Saifabad near the assembly were also arrested when they tried to march towards the building.

All roads leading to the assembly complex and routes out of Osmania University were sealed by police. At least five flyovers were closed and restrictions were imposed across the city.

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.

After day-long traffic restrictions in several parts of the city caused severe inconvenience to people, police lifted the restrictions, except around the assembly building.

While the unprecedented security cover and restrictions sent traffic haywire in most parts of the city, life in Cyberabad, housing IT giants like Microsoft, remained unaffected.

The police had declared the rally by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Osmania University students ‘illegal’.

The JAC is demanding the central government immediately initiate the process of forming 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 on the roads.

The assembly session began at 9 a.m. and adjourned around 1 p.m. after Chief Minister K. Rosaiah presented the budget.

Hyderabad Police Commissioner A.K. Khan appealed to students from other districts not to come here 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 local trains in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

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