HYDERABAD // India's federal government has agreed to create a new state in the southern province of Andhra Pradesh after days of violent protests and a hunger strike by a senior local politician. Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram made the announcement of the creation of Telangana state late yesterday after a series of meetings with the prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and the top elected official of Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister K Rosaiah.
The Telangana region is spread over 10 north and northwestern districts of Andhra Pradesh and demands for a separate state have erupted sporadically since the 1950s. The people of Telangana speak the same Telugu language as the rest of Andhra Pradesh but say their region has faced years of neglect by the state government. Angry protesters took to the streets 11 days ago and threatened to storm the state legislature after senior regional politician K Chandrasekhara Rao went on a hunger strike. The protesters clashed with police, who used batons to beat them back.
"The process of forming the state of Telangana will be initiated. An appropriate resolution will be moved in the state assembly," Mr Chidambaram, the home minister, said. Mr Rao called off his hunger strike soon after the announcement. It was not immediately clear when the new state would come into being. For a new state to be created, Indian law requires a resolution to be passed by the state legislature after which a bill to amend the federal constitution has to be passed by a two-thirds majority in the national parliament.
Hundreds of Telangana supporters today celebrated the announcement with firecrackers and music. Several parts of India - the Bundelkhand region in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, Vidarbha in the western Maharashtra state and Gorkhaland in the eastern West Bengal state - also face similar movements, but so far there have been no moves by the government to create separate states there. India currently has 28 states and seven federally administered regions.