Hyderabad: The 13 districts of coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema today shut down for the next 72 hours following a bandh call given by various organisations to protest the Union Cabinet’s approval of
Hyderabad: The 13 districts of coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema today shut down for the next 72 hours following a bandh call given by various organisations to protest the Union Cabinet’s approval of the state’s division on Thursday. All shops and establishments remained closed and roads wore a deserted look. Agitators burnt tyres at various junctions. The strike hit even the holy shrine of Tirumala with RTC workers suspending all bus services to the hill town. Various employees’ organisations resolved to bring all Central services also to a halt. Electricity employees are expected to take a decision on snapping power supply in the next few days. Emotional agitators shouted slogans against top Congress leaders and demanded the resignation of Seemandhra ministers from the Union Cabinet. The bandh was peaceful in Vijayawada and adjoining regions. The two regions were on fire since Thursday morning when news reports began trickling in that the note on Telangana would be placed before the Cabinet scheduled to meet in the evening. People came out on to the streets in large numbers shouting slogans for Samaikyandhra, students came out of campuses in procession, statues of Rajiv Gandhi and Indira Gandhi were vandalised and effigies of Congress leaders were burnt. The residences of ruling Congress MPs from the two regions were under siege from furious anti-Telangana protesters. Police have been put on high alert and director general of police B. Prasada Rao held a video conference with all the regional IGs and district police officials. He said additional forces would be deployed if the situation warranted it but cautioned police to respond with restraint. YSRC president Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy called for a 72-hour bandh. Separately, APNGOs president P. Ashok Babu also gave a similar call. Other political parties like the Telugu Desam have not officially called for a bandh, but their leaders have been told to lead the agitation from the front in their respective areas. Party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu said that he would wait for another 24 hours for the Centre to come out with an action plan and then announce the party’s course of action. Amalapuram Congress MP G.V. Harshakumar urged agitators to shut down rail and gas distribution networks. There were some tense moments in Anantapur, the epicentre of the unified state agitation, when thousands of students marched out of the Srikrishna Devaraya University campus towards Anantapur town. Samaikyandhra activists ransacked a telecom exchange and attacked the State Bank of India ATM at Gorantla, the native village of Hindupur MP Nimmala Kristappa. The mob demanded to know why Kistappa had not resigned.