M A I N   N E W S

Hyderabad on boil, youth sets himself ablaze
n Enraged students torch RTC buses
n 600 agitators arrested
n City turns into a fortress with deployment of 20,000 cops
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, February 20
Andhra Pradesh capital was once again on the boil today as tragedy struck a protest rally by pro-Telangana students following self-immolation attempt by one of the students, triggering tension at Osmania University, the epicentre of the statehood agitation.

A 20-year-old youth, S Yadaiah, poured kerosene and set himself ablaze near the university main gate as shocked policemen immediately rushed him to a nearby hospital. In his suicide note, the student said he was resorting to the extreme step to protest the delay in formation of Telangana state.

The tragic incident came on a day of a see-saw battle between the students, who gave a “Chalo Assembly” call, and the police. The city was virtually turned into a fortress with deployment of over 20,000 policemen, imposition of prohibitory orders and traffic restrictions.

The Joint Action Committee of Osmania University, spearheading the statehood agitation, gave anxious moments to the government by announcing its plans to lay a siege to the Assembly. Sensing trouble, the police cordoned off all roads leading to the Assembly and diverted traffic in the city.

The student rally was to demand resignation of all elected representatives of Telangana region. The JAC also rejected the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Justice BN Srikrishna Committee set up by the Centre to go into the demands for creation of Telangana state as well as for keeping Andhra Pradesh united.

An already volatile situation in the university campus turned for the worse with the immolation bid by Yadaiah, a first year degree student who raised “Jasi Telangana” slogans after setting himself ablaze. The enraged students torched three RTC buses and pelted stones at the police.

Earlier in the day, the police foiled the attempts by students to march towards the Assembly. Nearly 600 agitators were arrested at several places for violating the prohibitory orders.

The JAC had originally planned to mobilise thousands of students from Telangana districts and to lay siege to the Assembly as part of its agitation for statehood. Earlier, the students damaged windowpanes of Osmania University Vice-Chancellor Tirupati Rao's car when he tried to persuade them not to take out a rally.

Barring Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which has been in the forefront of statehood movement, no other political party had extended support to the student rally.

Declaring the rally as illegal, the police made unprecedented security arrangements to prevent any untoward incident. Amid high tension in the city, Chief Minister K Rosaiah, who also holds Finance portfolio, presented the annual budget for 2010-11 in the Assembly.



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