Hyderabad: The Chalo Indira Park rally took a violent turn on Monday as protesters from Opposition parties and counter-protesters from local associations attacked each other with sticks and rods, and threw chairs at each other. Police resorted to a lathi-charge to control the situation. A dozen protesters from both sides were injured.
The government wants to relocate Dharna Chowk, where public protests are generally held, to the outskirts of the city. Political and civil rights protesters allege that the government is trying to stifle dissenting.
Scores of protesters from Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC), Left parties, the BJP, TDP and Congress, who occupied an entire stretch near Indira Park, broke through the barricades put up by the cops, who then retaliated with a lathi-charge.
The Opposition party coalition, the Dharna Chowk Parirakshana Committee, was led by M. Kodandaram of the TJAC; V. Hanumantha Rao of the Congress and MLA A. Revanth Reddy of the TD who were also in the forefront.
The counter-protesters consisted of local residents and association members, who supported the government’s decision to shift the chowk as the constant agitations and rallies lead to roads being closed and causes them a great deal of inconvenience.
Sources said that the police gave permission to both protesters and counter-protesters, and did not prepare itself well for the inevitable clash between the two.
The political protestors tried to forcefully enter the other side of the chowk.
Clashes could have been avoided, says Kodandaram
Speaking at Dharna Chowk, M. Kodandaram of the TJAC told reporters that they the TJAC had approached police to find solutions to hold protests without affecting residents.
However, the police shrugged off their request and told them to resolve the issue among themselves. He added that the violence and clashes could have been avoided if the police and the TRS government had acted more responsibly.
According to the police, the political protesters tried to forcefully enter the other side of the chowk, where the counter protesters had put up their tents, and crossed the barricade.
“Following heated arguments, the two groups clashed, throwing chairs at each other. Violence broke out after a large number of protesters, who had assembled as part of a protest call opposing shifting of Dharna Chowk, tried to go to the site, and clashed with another group, who were supporting the government move,” said Central Zone Deputy Commissioner of Police D Joel Davis.
He insisted that “we had deployed enough force to control the crowd, and when the situation went out of control, we dispersed the agitators.”