Kakinada/Hyderabad: The reservation movement by Kapus in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday took a violent turn like the Gujjar and Patel movements at Tuni in East Godavari district.
Agitators set fire to the Ratnachal Express and to two police stations including the Tuni Rural Police Station.
They also attacked and beat up policemen in the area after the Kapu Garjana meet.
Around 25 trains were stopped across the state, mostly in Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada, causing huge inconvenience to passengers. Protesters resorted to rail roko and road blockades in Tuni and there was high tension in the town and surroundings as additional police forces were rushed there.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu said that two police stations, 25 vehicles and a train were set on fire and damaged by the agitators.
He said that the driver of the train had switched off the power which saved many lives.
Mr Naidu said that around 17 policemen, including a deputy superintendent of police, inspectors and sub inspectors were injured.
“The condition of one of the injured CIs and a constable is critical,” said Mr Naidu.
Seven passengers in the Ratnachal Express were also injured. So far no deaths have been reported. Mr Naidu added, “Media personnel and five railway officials were also attacked.”
The Kapus, led by Kapunadu leader Mudragada Padmanabham, took to the streets and blocked national highways and rail tracks. They even slept on roads and railway tracks.
Additional DG (law and order) R.P. Thakur said, “Tension is prevailing in the area. Agitators also attacked a market yard.” While addressing the meeting, Mr Padmanabham gave a call that the people should come out on the streets and block the national highways and rail tracks. He called upon them not to go to their houses till the government gave in to their demands.
One lakh Kapu protestors block trains, highway
Following this he, followed by the Kapus, blocked the national highways and nearby railway tracks.
Traffic was stranded from Anakapalle to Tuni for kilometers.
Mr Padmanabaham made it clear that they would not stop the agitation till the Chief Minister issued government orders for reservations.
The protesters claimed that Mr Naidu had failed to keep his promise to the Kapu community to include them in the Backward Classes list and had only formed a commission to look into the demands of the community.
The protesters, meanwhile, defended their action claiming that they had retaliated after the police provoked them by resorting to lathi charge.
The Ratnachal Express was stopped at 3.20 pm between Tuni and Hamsavaram by Kapu agitators who sat on the tracks, climbed on the train and damaged hose pipe and glasses of the coaches.
It is estimated that around one lakh protestors blocked trains and the Chennai-Kolkata National Highway affecting traffic. The protests spread to Vijayawada and minor blockades were also reported in Krishnalanka.
Several leaders of the community like Botsa Satyanarayana and Ummareddy Venkates-warlu of the YSR Congress, former Union minister Pallam Raju and former Congress minister Vatti Vasantha Kumar extended support to the Kapu movement.
Stir will continue: Mudragada Padmanabham
Kapu leader Mudragada Padmanabham relented late on Sunday night and gave up the road and rail blockade imposed by activists.
He said the agitation for reservations will continue and set out an ultimatum to the AP government to issue a GO by Monday evening to include Kapus in the BCs list and another one to allocate Rs 2,000 crore to Kapu Corporation.
He said he would sit on a fast unto death from Monday evening at his house at Kirlampudi of East Godavari district if the government failed to do so.
He asked the agitators to give up the road and rail blockade and return to their houses. He said it was not his intention or the intention of Kapus to cause inconvenience to passengers. Therefore they would not obstruct highway and rail traffic.