HYDERABAD // Protesters in Hyderabad clashed with police yesterday as thousands gathered for a march in support of carving out an independent region of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh, one of the country's biggest states.
Police sealed off roads, fired tear gas at protesters who tried to remove barricades and twice arrested regional members of parliament from the ruling Congress Party who staged a sit-in to protest large-scale arrests of people coming to Hyderabad for the demonstration.
Protesters said the government was trying to suppress the movement, despite giving permission for the march. They pointed to the cancellation of dozens of trains and buses in the region, as well as the arrests of hundreds headed to the state capital.
Police said that permission was given only for the march at a specific area and that they would not allow any other rally.
M Kodandaram, a leader of the Telangana joint action committee (JAC) that organised the gathering, condemned what he said was a government conspiracy to foil the march. Similar pro-independence protests in March turned violent and, in July, a strike aimed at forcing the government to recognise statehood shut businesses and disrupted transport. Also in July, nine Congress Party members of parliament from the state resigned from the federal parliament over the party's failure to take a stand on the 40-year-old demand to declare the north-western Telangana region a separate state.
The government approved the new state in principle last year, but changed its mind after opposition criticism. Hyderabad is home to the Indian headquarters of international firms such as Microsoft and Google.
* With additional reporting by Reuters