Seemandhra protests: Jagan ups the ante with hunger strike

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Hyderabad: A combative YSR Congress Party chief YS Jaganmohan Reddy on Saturday launched an indefinite strike against Centre’s “arbitary” decision to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh and said it will be challenged in the Supreme Court.

As the general strike called by pro-united groups in non- Telangana regions entered the second day on Saturday, Jagan, who recently got bail in a corruption case, lashed out at the “unilateral manner” in which the Union Cabinet had decided on October 3 to carve out the state of Telangana. “We will challenge the Centre’s decision in the Supreme Court,” he said, adding that there were “legal problems” with the proposed division.

“We are opposing the unilateral manner in which the Centre is functioning. How can it go ahead with the bifurcation process without a resolution in the state Assembly? We have never heard of an instance of state bifurcation without a resolution in the Assembly,” Jagan said. When “there is so much happening in the state”, and when the ordinance on convicted lawmakers can be revoked, why the Centre could not reverse, in the same way, the decision to divide Andhra Pradesh, he asked.

Jagan had earlier launched an indefinite fast against the bifurcation at the Chanchalguda Jail where he was lodged as an undertrial in a disproportionate assets case, but it was broken on the fifth day after he was hospitalised. On Saturday, YSRCP activists gathered at Jagan’s Lotus Pond residence in Hyderabad as he began the fast at 11.30 am. Party MP Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy and other leaders flanked him on the specially erected ‘deeksha’ platform.

Meanwhile, the bandh against the bifurcation entered second day in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema. Andhra Pradesh Non-Gazetted Officers (APNGOs) and other united-AP supporters have called for a 48-hour bandh, while YSRCP has called for a 72-hour shut-down in the non-Telangana regions.

Educational institutions and commercial establishments remained closed in the region. Dwaraka Tirumala Rao, Inspector General (Coastal Andhra), said police had deployed additional forces in view of attacks on Congress offices and residences and properties of some Congress leaders, including state Congress chief Botsa Satyanarayana on Friday. “Situation is under control. As long as agitations are peaceful we have no objection. But if they turn violent then we will swing into action and file cases,” Rao said.

The pro-united Andhra employees, including the staff of state-run Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC), are already on strike since mid-August. The pilgrim town of Tirupati wore a deserted look as APSRTC buses are not plying in the area. TDP President N Chandrababu Naidu has announced an indefinite fast in New Delhi from Monday demanding “justice” for Seemandhra.

In Vizianagaram city, police lobbed teargas shells to disperse agitators who hurled stones. Rallies, road blockades and other protests were witnessed in Vishakhapatnam district. Schools and shops remained shut. At Rajahmundry town, tension prevailed when some APNGOs activists allegeldy damaged a hoarding of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Protesters tried to block roads by burning tyres at various places in the district. Shops, petrol pumps, banks, educational institutions remained closed for the second day.

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