Hyderabad: Police used tear gas and fired rubber bullets to quell hundreds of stone-throwing protesters in Hyderabad on Wednesday amid anger over delays in creating a new state in the region. Some 16 people were injured in the violence.
In December, India’s federal government had promised to carve out a new state called Telangana in the northern part of Andhra Pradesh state after a senior local politician went on a hunger strike to press the demand. But weeks later the government appeared to put the plan on hold and said more consultations were needed before the new state was formed.
Since then sporadic angry protests have erupted in the state.
Wednesday’s violence started when groups of university students in state capital Hyderabad tried to march through the streets with the body of a student who had allegedly committed suicide to demand the creation of the new state, B. Prasad Rao, the city’s top police official said.
Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets and used bamboo batons to beat back the angry students, who had been pelting the security forces with stones, Rao said. At least 10 police and six students were injured in the clashes.
“We are trying to bring the situation under control, but the stray incidents of stone-pelting are still continuing,” he said.
In several northern parts of the state, traffic was halted and schools and businesses were shut in response to a strike called by student groups in support of a new Telangana state.
Activists in the Telangana area have long complained it was underdeveloped and ignored by powerful politicians from southern Andhra Pradesh. Demands for a separate state have erupted sporadically since the 1950s.
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 for new states. So far there have been no moves by the government to create separate states there.
India now has 28 states and seven federally administered regions.