Chandrababu Naidu visits Warangal despite shutdown, protests


    Hyderabad, (IANS) Braving violent protests by Telangana activists, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu Friday successfully completed his padyatra in Andhra Pradesh’s Warangal district.

    Winding up his day-long tour with a public meeting at Palakurti, Naidu reiterated that he was not against Telangana.

    Blaming the Congress for the current uncertainty over Telangana, he said it was for the Congress government to clear this.

    He lashed out at Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) for opposing his padyatra which is aimed at highlighting the problems of farmers. “We will not be cowed down by the attacks,” said Naidu, who interacted with farmers during his 11-km long ‘padyatra’.

    During his speech, a Telangana activist from the audience threw a shoe towards him but it landed on the stage. Police arrested the protester.

    Naidu’s visit to the stronghold of the movement for separate Telangana state is expected to bolster the confidence of the party ahead of the by-elections to six assembly seats in the region.

    The TDP chief was successful in visiting the district despite the shutdown called by Telangana groups and the protests he faced at several places on Hyderabad-Warangal route.

    Tension prevailed in the district throughout the day as TRS activists attacked Naidu’s convoy with stones and clashed with police.

    The former chief minister, who left Hyderabad in the morning, had to face protests from TRS and other groups at several places along the 150-km route.

    Windowpanes of one car in Naidu’s convoy were damaged in the stone-throwing by TRS activists at Aler in Nalgonda district. The protesters also threw slippers, tomatoes and eggs at the convoy at Aler and Rayagiri.

    Protesters at Jangaon in Warangal district pelted stones at policemen deployed as part of the security for Naidu’s visit. Police retaliated with a baton charge.

    Naidu, who is visiting Warangal as part of his ‘rythu yatra’, faced the first protest at Tarnaka in Hyderabad when students of Osmania University threw stones at his convoy. Police used teargas shells to disperse the agitating students.

    Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC), comprising the TRS and other Telangana groups, had called for a shutdown in Warangal district to protest Naidu’s visit.

    They wanted the TDP chief to first make his stand clear on separate statehood to Telangana before visiting the district.

    The shutdown call evoked total response in the district with shops and business establishments closed. Educational institutions also declared a holiday while most of the buses of state-owned Road Transport Corporation remained off the roads, fearing violence.

    Warangal’s superintendent of police had Thursday advised Naidu not to visit the district in view of the tense situation. But ignoring the advice, Naidu embarked on the visit with a convoy of over 200 vehicles.

    Police arrested several leaders and activists of the JAC, the TRS and other groups in Warangal district as a precautionary measure.