Kapu leader and former Andhra Minister Mudragada Padmanabham slipped out of house arrest on Sunday to launch his 'Chalo Amaravathi' padayatra from Kirlampudi in East Godavari, only to be arrested again in a nearby village.
Mudragada‚Äôs padayatra demanding BC status for the Kapu community in the state had been in suspended animation for nearly a month. The padayatra was supposed to have kicked off on July 26, but it was foiled by the police who placed Mudragada on house arrest in view of the law and order situation.
On Sunday afternoon, as a large number of supporters gathered in Kirlampudi, Mudragada managed to push past the tight security to launch his padayatra. Together with his supporters and Kapu JAC leaders, Mudragada managed march up to Veeravaram before he was arrested, local media reports said.
Along with Mudragada, a few other Kapu leaders were also arrested and taken to Kirlampudi. Addressing the media after he was brought back to Kirlampudi, Mudragada declared, "I will not withdraw from the movement until we achieve justice for the community."
He added, "Let them file cases against me, arrest me, but we won't back down from the struggle."
Turning his criticism against CM Chandrababu Naidu, he asked, "Do you still want us to be your slaves? Don't we have the right to ask you to fulfill the promises you made to us?"
The AP Director General of Police N Sambasiva Rao told the media that the police were ready to give permission to anyone to hold a rally as long as they followed the stipulated procedure. "When they are organising programmes in such a big manner, they should take the permission as per the guidelines of Supreme Court," he said.
He added that the police would not tolerate anyone violating the law.
The police have justified preventing Mudragada‚Äôs padayatra and his house arrest on the grounds of violence that has followed Kapu agitations in the past.
At the height of the Kapu agitation in January 2016, activists set fire to the Ratnachal Express at Tuni in East Godavari district.
Following this, the TDP government constituted the Manjunatha Commission to look into the issue.
However, with the Commission's report delayed by a long period, Kapu leaders planned the 400-km padayatra that would cover the districts of East Godavari, West Godavari, Krishna and Guntur, before ending at Amaravati.