Hyderabad, Feb 20: Student protests over the Telangana issue here Saturday took a tragic turn with one of them attempting self-immolation even as unprecedented security measures foiled plans by students to lay siege to the state assembly.
S. Yadaiah, a student of intermediate second year (Class 12), set himself ablaze at the main entrance of Osmania University as police prevented students from marching towards the state assembly, in the heart of capital, to lay siege demanding resignation of all elected representatives from Telangana.
The youth, a student of Noble College, poured kerosene, set himself ablaze and tried to run towards the police barricade shouting "Jai Telangana".
The 19-year-old suffered serious burn injuries and was taken to a hospital where his condition is stated to be critical.
In a suicide note, he wrote that he was taking the extreme step to protest the delay in formation of Telangana state. The youth hails from Ranga Reddy district.
The incident heightened tension at Osmania University, the hotbed of the agitation, as hundreds of students again tried to march forward but were pushed back by police and paramilitary forces.
High tension prevailed at the campus as students continued their protests since morning.
Protesters set afire three buses at Jamia Osmania railway station near the university.
Over 200 students were arrested at three different places in the city as thousands of policemen and traffic restrictions across the city foiled the march to the assembly.
Earlier, hundreds of students began marching from the university campus to the assembly complex.
Violating prohibitory orders, the students began the rally at Arts College on the university campus but were stopped by police at Vidyanagar, just outside the campus and about 15 km from the assembly building.
Raising slogans of "Jai Telangana" amid drumbeats, the students tried to force their way through several barricades. Over 1,000 students had planned to lay siege to the assembly.
Earlier, the students damaged window panes of Vice Chancellor Tirupati Rao's car when he tried to persuade them not to take out a rally. Rao advised students to hold a peaceful protest within the campus.
Nizam College near the assembly complex was also tense as police closed the gates of the college and hostel to prevent students from coming out.
A similar situation prevailed at City College in the old city where students were prevented from taking out a rally. Over 100 students were taken into custody.
Students of PG College at Saifabad near the assembly were also arrested when they tried to march towards the building. All roads leading to the assembly complex and routes out of Osmania University were sealed by police.
At least five flyovers were closed and restrictions were imposed across the city.
Unprecedented security was in place as 20,000 personnel from police and paramilitary forces were deployed and prohibitory orders were imposed in Hyderabad and Cyberabad police commissionerates.
The police declared the rally by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Osmania University students "illegal".
The JAC is demanding the central government immediately initiate the process for the formation of a separate Telangana state to be carved out of Andhra Pradesh.
All roads in a three-kilometre radius around the assembly building wore a deserted look.
Only vehicles of police, ministers, legislators and mediapersons were seen on the roads.
The assembly session began at 9 a.m. and adjourned around 1 p.m. after Chief Minister K. Rosaiah presented the budget.
Hyderabad Police Commissioner A.K. Khan appealed to students from other districts not to come here for the rally.
Police erected barricades on roads connecting the city to other Telangana districts.
Authorities also stopped several trains on the Hyderabad-Warangal route, apparently to prevent students of Warangal's Kakatiya University from reaching Hyderabad. Police, however, claimed that trains were stopped after a bomb threat.
South Central Railway cancelled almost all local trains in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
The traffic restrictions across the city caused severe inconvenience to people. School and college students and office-goers had a tough time as the diversion of vehicles caused traffic jams at several points.
Besides deployment of the entire 10,000-strong city police force, an equal number of security personnel from other parts of the state, neighbouring states and paramilitary forces were mobilised.