Large-scale arrests in Andhra as Bandh for special status evokes near total response

In Vijayawada, the functioning capital of the state, buses were off the roads and shops remained shut.
Large-scale arrests in Andhra as Bandh for special status evokes near total response
Large-scale arrests in Andhra as Bandh for special status evokes near total response
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The day-long Andhra Pradesh shutdown called by the opposition parties on Saturday to protest denial of special category status to the state evoked near total response, affecting normal life.

The shutdown was total in some parts of the state while it was near total in other regions. The day witnessed street protests and large-scale arrests.

Public transport was affected in all the 13 districts as activists of Yuvajana, Shramika, Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP), Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) stopped buses from plying.

The opposition workers staged sit-in at Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) depots since early Saturday to prevent buses from coming out.

However, police arrested scores of protesters. APSRTC was initially running buses in some districts with police protection but services resumed in many places in the afternoon.

Shops and business establishments and educational institutions also remained closed in Vijayawada, Guntur, Visakhapatnam, Tirupati, Kurnool, Anantapur and other towns.

Shutdown was total in Vijayawada, the functioning capital of the state. Buses were off the roads and schools, colleges and shops remained shut.

Tension prevailed in parts of Tirupati as police arrested dozens of leaders of the opposition parties including YSRCP's Bhumana Karunakar Reddy. An attempt by CPI-M workers to conduct a mock funeral of Prime Minister Narendra Modi also triggered tension. The attempt was foiled by police, which led to heated arguments between the two sides.

Protestors alleged that Modi betrayed the people of Andhra Pradesh by going back on his words to grant special status to the state. Police imposed prohibitory orders banning assembly of five or more persons in the temple town.

In Srikakulam district, YSRCP leaders including former minister Dharmana Prasad Rao were placed under house arrest and the party alleged that police were resorting to indiscriminate arrests and use of force to foil the shutdown. 

YSRCP president Y. S. Jaganmohan alleged that Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu tried to foil the shutdown with the arrest of thousands of party activists.

The opposition parties took out rallies and staged sit-in at various places, condemning the attitude of the central and the state governments. The protesters raised slogans against Modi and Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.

The Congress party staged a road blockade on Bengaluru highway in Kurnool. The protest led by state Congress chief Raghuveera Reddy led to a huge traffic jam.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday met a delegation of BJP leaders from the state and urged them to work for its development.

"A BJP delegation from Andhra Pradesh met the Prime Minister," said a brief tweet from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

The Andhra Pradesh leaders thanked Prime Minister for the special package, party sources said.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday announced a special economic package for Andhra Pradesh, clarifying that the state will get monetary advantage equivalent to what it would have got if it was accorded the special category status.

Jaitley had, however, said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement made in Rajya Sabha on February 20, 2014 for according special status to Andhra Pradesh cannot be implemented as the 14th Finance Commission has recommended that the special category status can be given to only hill and northeastern states.

"A total of Rs 22,113 crore is to be paid to Andhra Pradesh as revenue deficit grant for the five year period from 2015-2020," a BJP source said. 

The central government's financial package also includes a special assistance, a series of tax concessions and full funding of Pollavaram irrigation project.

But the decling of special category status, which has been demanded by all parties in the state including the NDA constituent, the ruling TDP of N. Chandrababu Naidu, has been resented strongly.

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