Kapu leader threatens to go on fast, security stepped up

Hyderabad: Kapu leader Mudragada Padmanabham today threatened to go on an indefinite fast over the community's demand for inclusion in the Backward Class list even as police stepped up security in Andhra Pradesh's East Godavari district, which had witnessed violence over the issue.

"...I will go on an indefinite fast even if I am put in jail. The government is conspiring to create a terrible atmosphere and to defame the Kapu community," Padmanabham, who is leading the stir, told reporters in East Godavari district.

Agitators belonging to the Kapu caste set fire to Ratnachal Express when it halted at Tuni railway station in East Godavari district on Sunday afternoon, they were protesting to demand their caste for inclusion in the backward class. PTI

Holding "bad elements" encouraged by ruling Telugu Desam Party responsible for the violence that erupted at Tuni yesterday, he alleged that the TDP government in the state tried to suppress the agitation by creating obstacles in the public meeting held yesterday.

"Is this state their estate?" he asked. His comments evoked sharp reaction from AP's Deputy Chief Minister (Home) N Chinna Rajappa and Municipal Administration Minister P Narayana.

Alleging that Padmanabham incited people during the public meeting, they held him responsible for the violent incidents. Though the Congress government led by K Vijayabhaskar Reddy in 1990s issued orders providing reservation to Kapus, the orders were not clear, Chinna Rajappa said.

Noting that Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu is committed to provide quota to the community as promised by TDP, they said the government has constituted a commission headed by a retired judge to go into the issue. Meanwhile, security has been tightened and reinforcements sent to East Godavari.

Senior police officials inspected the Tuni police station and other sites, which were the focus of the agitation. At least 15 policemen, including a senior district police officer, were injured yesterday when the stir by Kapu community members seeking reservation under Backward Class category turned violent as the agitators went on rampage, set four coaches of Ratnachal Express on fire at Tuni station and blocked the National Highway-16 in East Godavari district.

Earlier yesterday, the agitators gathered at Tuni to attend a public meeting addressed by Padmanabham, pelted stones at the engine of a train and attacked police personnel before ransacking the railway station. Some bogies were also set ablaze.

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