Violence broke out during a protest by the employees of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC), who are on strike, here on Saturday as hundreds of protestors managed to reach Hussain Sagar lake, defying police orders.
Police used batons and lobbed tear gas shells to disperse the protestors who removed the barricades to enter Tank Bund, the road on the banks of the lake connecting the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
Some protestors including the activists of various parties supporting the employees, were injured in the lathicharge.
Though the police had barricaded Tank Bund and surrounding roads since morning, the protestors took the police by surprise by entering Tank Bund from both sides. They broke the barricades, sat on the road and raised slogans against the government for not accepting the demands of the employees, who have been on strike for more than a month now.
The protestors including women also tried to rush the lower Tank Bund road from adjoining localities. Tension prevailed as the police chased the protestors and used tear gas. Rapid Action Force (RAP) personnel were deployed to tackle the situation.
BJP MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar, Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) president M. Kodandaram and leaders of Left parties, trade unions and student groups were arrested when they were heading towards Tank Bund.
Ashwathama Reddy, convenor of the employees’ Joint Action Committee (JAC), who called the march, was also arrested.
Tank Bund and other major roads surrounding Hussain Sagar lake were out of bounds for traffic since Saturday morning as police sealed the area to foil the march.
Tank Bund, Lower Tank Bund, Telugu Talli Flyover, Indira Park Road, Secretariat Road, Necklace Road, Khairatabad Flyover and all other roads leading to the lake were sealed by the police, which has denied permission for the protest. Hundreds of policemen were deployed around the lake to prevent protestors from reaching the area, a popular picnic spot.
NTR Park, Lumbini Park, Indira Park and Sanjivaiah Park around Hussain Sagar were closed for visitors as a precautionary measure.
The JAC of the TSRTC employees called for a ‘Chalo Tank Bund’ protest as part of their ongoing strike to press for their demands. The police, however, refused to give permission for the march on the ground that this could disturb law and order in the city.
Police took several leaders of the TSRTC employees and the opposition parties into preventive custody or placed them under house arrest across the state. The arrests were made since Friday evening.
Police also set up check posts at the entry points into Hyderabad to prevent TSRTC employees from entering the city.
The strike by over 48,000 TSRTC employees entered the 36th day on Saturday. Their demands include merger of TSRTC with the government.
However, taking a tough stand the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government rejected the demand for merger and even announced privatisation of half of the TSRTC routes.
Though the Telangana High Court on Thursday directed the state government to take the initiative to resolve the employees’ demands, no end to the stalemate appears in sight as both the sides are sticking to their stand.