Vijayawada: Dozens of people including police personnel were injured as violence broke out in Andhra Pradesh’s Amalapuram town on Tuesday during the protest by a group against the government’s move to rename Konaseema district as Dr B.R. Ambedkar Konaseema district.

Protesters opposing the proposal to rename the district also attacked the residence of state minister P. Viswaroop, torched few vehicles and resorted to stone-pelting, triggering tension in the town.

A mob set a couple of vehicles afire at the minister’s house and also ransacked the office. The minister’s family members escaped unhurt as the police had shifted them to a safe place.

Not only state minister P Viswaroop’s house, but a violent mob also set on fire MLA Ponnada Satish’s house in Konaseema district.

Hundreds of youth participated in the protest called by Konaseema Sadhana Samithi (KSS). Raising slogans against the government’s decision, they gathered at the Clock Tower.

As police moved to detain the protesters, some of them ran towards the collector’s office. Police chased and arrested some of them. As they were being taken in police vehicles, others pelted stones damaging window panes. The mob set afire a police vehicle and a private bus. However, there was no one in the vehicles.

The youth also pelted stones on police near Amalapuram Area Hospital. Superintendent of Police K.S.S.V Subba Reddy escaped in the stone-pelting but some police personnel were injured. Police resorted to baton charge to control the situation.

Home Minister T. Anita condemned the violence. She said anti-social elements were leading the protesters. She said it was unfortunate that the decision to name the district after the father of the Indian Constitution Dr Ambedkar was opposed.

The home minister claimed that the decision was taken at the request of the people. The Konaseema district was carved out from East Godavari with Amalapuram as its headquarters.

It was one of the 13 districts created on April 4, taking the total number of districts in the state to 26.

The government had named some of the districts after prominent personalities like freedom fighter Alluri Sitarama Raju, former chief minister and TDP founder Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao, who was popular as NTR. Similarly, two new districts were named after saint composer Tallapaka Annamacharya (Annamayya) and Satya Sai Baba (Sri Satya Sai).

The YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government headed by Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy had come under criticism from Dalit groups and others for not naming a district after Ambedkar.

The state government on May 18 issued a notification inviting objections and suggestions on the proposal to rename the Konaseema district after Dr Ambedkar. It sought suggestions and objections from the people residing within Konaseema.

People have been urged to send objections and suggestions, if any, to Konaseema district collector within 30 days.

However, opposing the proposal, KSS had called for protests. The police had imposed prohibitory orders in the town in view of the protest call.

Gorakhe alleged that basic human rights are being trampled over every day in prison. He claimed, “Even though the court has made clear in its orders regarding access to medical services from external hospitals, the superintendent and medical officials resort to arbitrary decision-making. My co-accused Gautam Navlakha, Ramesh Gaychor, Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut, Surendra Gadling, Anand Teltumbade, and Hany Babu are also afflicted with various illnesses and there has been intentional negligence in their treatment. The medicines (especially ayurvedic) provided by lawyers and families are not being accepted, creating an overall state of helplessness.”Gorakhe also demanded immediate access to medical services from the concerned authorities and action against medical officials for negligence in duty.

He also sought that scanning done by administration and investigation agencies should be stopped at once and with due process, legal action should be taken against the culprits.

In his letter, he alleged that, “Every letter sent to me and to my co-accused has been illegally scanned by the superintendents and sent directly to investigation agencies. By violating the right to privacy guaranteed by the Constitution and trampling the laws the prison administration is committing a crime. Instead of opening the letters in front of us each letter that we receive is already opened and unsealed by the time it reaches us. The books, accompanying papers, and stamps are stolen. Similarly, the letter being sent outside is sent directly for scanning instead of being sealed in front of me.”Gorakhe also demanded that “perversely orchestrated water shortage in the prison” be addressed. Immediately ensure every inmate is provided 135 litres of water, he demanded.

The political prisoner under the Elgar Parishad Bhima Koregaon case also demanded that a permanent visiting room should be immediately constructed, and clean drinking water, sanitation, fans, and other facilities are made available. An up-to-date token system should be implemented as soon as possible, he demanded in the letter.

Pointing out at a purported circular issued by the Prisons and Correctional Services, he claimed that the telephone provision otherwise available to him has been stopped. “According to the principle of equal justice, all undertrial and convicted inmates should receive the services made available during the COVID-19 pandemic with due verification and following the Gujarat and Telangana State Jail telephone facility pattern,” he said.

On May 5, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar decried the police actions to slap Section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code against activists, saying that such measures suppress liberty and stifle any voice of dissent raised in a peaceful and democratic way. Pawar on May 5 arrived at Sahyadri Guest House in Mumbai to appear before the Judicial probe commission in the Bhima Koregaon case.

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