Hyderabad, Dec 30 (IANS) Normal life came to a standstill in Hyderabad and nine other districts of Andhra Pradesh's Telangana region Wednesday as the daylong shutdown called by the all-party Joint Action Committee (JAC), demanding statehood to the region, evoked total response.
Transport services were paralysed and shops, business establishments, petrol bunks, cinema theatres, banks, offices and educational institutions remained closed.
The region reverberated with the slogan of "Jai Telangana" as thousands of people marched on streets in various towns and villages urging the central government to immediately initiate the process for formation of Telangana state.
State-owned Road Transport Corporation (RTC) suspended all its bus services, including those which pass through Telangana to major cities like Vijayawada, Guntur, Visakhapatnam, Kurnool and Tirupati in Andhra and Rayalaseema regions.
More than 9,000 buses went off the roads. In Hyderabad alone, 3,400 buses did not come out of the depots, causing severe inconvenience to commuters.
South Central Railway (SCR) cancelled 165 trains, including 87 express and passenger trains, as a precautionary measure. Railway authorities also cancelled 46 suburban trains and 32 MMTS (Multi-Modal Transport System) services in Hyderabad.
Police said barring minor incidents of violence, the shutdown passed off peacefully. Dozens of leaders and workers of various parties were arrested.
The region was rocked by rallies, processions, meetings, human chainS and road and rail blockades. Protesters at several places laid siege to government offices.
Roads in Hyderabad and major towns like Warangal, Karimnagar and Nizamabad wore a deserted look as even auto-rickshaws joined the shutdown. Government employees, lawyers, industrial workers, students and people's organisations in the region also struck work.
The shutdown, the fifth since the beginning of Telangana agitation a month ago, affected the work in IT/ITeS and pharma companies in this technology hub. Some IT companies made arrangements for the accommodation of their employees in hotels near their offices to ensure uninterrupted work while others declared a holiday.
Police imposed prohibitory orders in Hyderabad and surrounding areas. Additional police and paramilitary forces were deployed in Cyberabad, the IT district housing IT giants like Microsoft, Google and Mahindra Satyam.
Protesters attacked Mount Opera resort on the outskirts of Hyderabad, damaging the security office. Unidentified people also set afire a car outside Ramoji Film City.
Police also arrested JAC convenor Kodandaram, N. Janardhan Reddy, Devender Goud and other leaders of the JAC while they were trying to take a rally in the city.
As many as 40 companies of paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were deployed in Telangana, including 15 in Hyderabad. Additional police forces from neighbouring states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra were also deployed.
The JAC, comprising the ruling Congress party, Telugu Desam Party, Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and organisations of students, employees and workers, was formed Dec 24, a day after the central government made a second statement on the Telangana issue, stressing on the need for consultations with all parties.
The statement was made days after protests in Andhra and Rayalaseema regions called for wide ranging consultations on granting of statehood to Telangana. It evoked strong protests in Telangana as it was seen as a u-turn by the central government, which had announced Dec 9 that the process for formation of Telangana would be initiated.
The Dec 9 statement came after 11 days of mass protests in Telangana and a hunger strike by TRS president K. Chandrasekhara Rao.