Kapu Quota Protest: Agitation Turns Volatile As Man In Andhra Pradesh Commits Suicide

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Violence broke out in Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari district on Sunday as thousands of protestors from Kapu caste set afire a train and blocked rail and road traffic, police said.

The protestors also set afire a police station in Tuni, a town in East Godavari district, about 100 km from Visakhapatnam. All trains between Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam and the vehicular traffic on Chennai-Kolkata national highway came to a halt as thousands of protestors squatted on the tracks and the highway.

The violence broke out around 3 pm during a massive public meeting organized by Kapu State Committee at Tuni to demand the government to include Kapus in the backward classes list and provide them reservation. Kapu leaders declared that they will not leave tracks and highways till the government issues an order to meet their demand.

Soon the protestors marched towards the track and stopped Visakhapatnam-Vijayawada Ratnachal Express near Tuni railway station. They attacked the engine and set afire eight bogies after ordering passengers to get down.

Kapu-Quota-Protest-Agitation-Turns-Volatile-As-Man-In-Andhra-Pradesh-Commits-Suicide

A railway official said no one was injured in the incident but the passengers including women and children ran in panic. The protesters later attacked Tuni railway station and ransacked the furniture. Four railway employees were injured.

The agitators also set afire Tuni rural police station. Five policemen were injured in the stone pelting. Dozens of trains were stopped at various stations in coastal Andhra due to the violence and the presence of protestors on the track.With situation going out of control, additional forces were rushed to the region. Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu called an emergency meeting of his cabinet colleagues and top officials in Vijayawada.

Trouble began soon after M Padmanabham, a senior leader Kapu leader, announced at the public meeting that they will not tolerate any further delay.“We will not move from highways and tracks till the government issues an order,” he said amid loud cheers from tens of thousands who had gathered from different parts of the state.

The Kapu leaders were angry with the ruling TDP for not implementing its poll promise to include Kapus in BC list.Meanwhile, in a late night development, the Kapu leaders withdrew their protest for reservation after large-scale violence rocked Tuni town in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.

M Padmanabham, a key leader of the community, announced that he is withdrawing the blockade. The vehicular traffic between Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada is expected to resume soon.Padmanabham, a former minister, asked the government to issue orders by Monday for including Kapus in the backward classes list so that they can get the benefit of reservation in education and employment. He warned that if the government failed to respond by Monday evening, he would launch fast-unto-death.

Asmaa Mubita is a Kenyan journalist of international repute with over fifteen years of experience in broadcast journalism. Asmaa Mubita began his journalism career at the Kenyan state broadcaster (KBC) and later worked at the KTN owned by the Standard Group and Citizen Television, the flagship brand of Royal Media Services. These exploits together with his reporting experience with the Voice of America, CNN and BBC have been rewarded with local and global recognition.