VIJAYAWADA: Police in Amaravati showed up their ruthless face, beating up protesting farmers and women, and arresting protestors as part of the Durga temple yatra on Friday.
Amaravati transformed into a battlefield with the clashes between protesters and cops. The police clammed down heavily on the pro-Amaravati farmers and women, forcibly dragging them, especially women, into the police vans. They further lathicharged the protesters, while the capital airs were rent with horrified cries and screams of women and farmers.
Women raised slogans angrily, ‘CM, down, down’, ‘save Amaravati’, ‘police, down, down’ and ‘no to three capitals’. The sentiments were echoed strongly by agitators during the protest.
The women and farmers were particularly angry with the government and police for resorting to lathi-charge to foil a devotional goddess Durga temple rally, as part of their protest opposing relocation of the state’s capital from Amaravati.
Farmers said that the police had arrested nearly 200 protestors but the police denied the claims, and said that they had released all the protesters who have been taken into preventive custody.
Earlier in the morning, women and farmers in large numbers readied to join Vijayawada Durga temple rally but the police denied permission.
Permission for puja denied: Protesters
K. Lakshmi, B Pramila and other women protesters told the media said that they planned to make offerings of pasupu (turmeric), kumkuma (vermillion), bangles and clothes to goddess Durga at the Kanaka Durga temple, for which they had gathered at Thullur. They brought puja essentials with them and chanted Jai Amaravati and Jai Durga slogans.
The police in large numbers stopped the women, and farmers, reminding the protesters of restrictions imposed under CrPC 144 and section 30 of the Police Act when they reached the outskirts of Rayapudi. The cops refused permission to allow the protesters ahead.
The protesters clarified that they would not create any inconvenience to public as they were going for a devotional rally, seeking the blessings of goddess Durga, but the police did not pay heed and disallowed them. The women tried to move forward, when the women police forcefully stopped them. When women refused to relent, the police started taking them into preventive custody and dragged them into nearby vans.
The angry women and farmers squatted on the road, objecting to police action of stopping them from worshipping a goddess, and alleged that performing puja turned a crime to the police. They raised slogans against the chief minister and the police and tried to resist the arrests.
The police appealed to the women and farmers to stop their protest, but had no takers. Women police started dispersing protesters but a confrontation began to build up, after which, the police, in large numbers, resorted to lathi-charge to disperse the protesters to clear the road.
At the Poleramma temple at Mandadam too, women who had gathered to cook pongallu for goddess Durga were handled roughly by the cops. The police surrounded the temple. Women locked the doors from inside, fearing arrests. Finally, the police allowed a team of 15 women to go to the Durga temple to offer puja in Vijayawada.
In a separate point of protest, women cooked pongallu at Amaravati, at the spot where the foundation for a capital was laid years ago, at Uddandarayunipalem and offered prasadam to police and farmers.
Meanwhile, Guntur rural SP Ch Vijaya Rao denied allegations of a lathi-charge, and defended the violence against protesters, saying that only women police took women into preventive custody. He said that the police had stopped the farmers and women as they assembled in big groups, violating the restrictions.
Mr Rao also denied news of the death of a woman protester in police custody as false and warned about taking stern action for spreading rumours....