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Eight killed in police firing during AP bandh
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 28
The land struggle by Left parties took a violent turn in Andhra Pradesh during the day-long bandh today when eight persons, including a woman, were killed in police firing at a stone-pelting mob in Khammam district.

A group of over 1,000 CPM activists clashed with policemen and pelted stones, triggering tension at Mudigonda village, about 10 km from the district headquarters.

In what turned out to be a clumsy operation to disperse a restive crowd, the police opened fire, killing eight persons, including a lorry driver who stepped out of his vehicle to witness the commotion.

Over 16 persons, including 10 policemen, were injured in the incident. Of them, the condition of three persons was stated to be serious. They are undergoing treatment at a government hospital in Khammam.

As the incident shook the Congress government, Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy announced judicial inquiry into the firing and appealed to the Left parties to call off their ongoing agitation.

Terming the incident as "unfortunate", home minister K.Jana Reddy said a departmental inquiry would be conducted into the circumstances that led to the firing and deputed a senior IG-rank officer to the spot. He also promised action against the erring policemen.

The incident has come as a major embarrassment for the government which is already facing mounting pressure from Left parties spearheading "Bhooporatam" (land struggle) for the last two months demanding distribution of land to the poor.

Incidentally, Khammam district is one of the strongholds of the CPM, which is in the forefront of the land struggle.

Elsewhere in the state, the bandh, called by the CPI and CPM and supported by the main opposition TDP and the BJP, evoked near total response, as shops, business establishments and educational institutions were closed and road and rail traffic was thrown out of gear.

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