Renaming district: Violent protesters in Andhra set minister's house ablaze
Andhra Pradesh's Amalapuram is on the edge after demonstrations against the renaming of the Konaseema district turned violent. Several people, including police officers, were injured in violent incidents across the town on Tuesday. Protesters also set ablaze the residence of state minister P Viswarup, torched vehicles, and resorted to stone-pelting, sparking disturbance.
Protesters ransacked and set on fire houses of Minister Viswarup and MLA P Satish on Tuesday, just after the government unveiled a plan to rename Konaseema district as Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar Konaseema. Outraged by the government's decision, the demonstrators allegedly resorted to stone-pelting and arson. Police used lathi-charge to disperse the crowd.
Prohibitory orders were issued under Section 144 in Amalapuram. Extra security troops were dispatched to bring the situation under control. In addition, 500 extra police officers have been sent in from nearby districts.
The state government had come under criticism from Dalit groups and others for not naming a district after Dr. Ambedkar in the recent decision. Later, the government issued a notification on May 18 inviting objections and suggestions on the proposal of renaming Konaseema district after Dr. Ambedkar. However, opposing the proposal, Konaseema Sadhana Samithi (KSS) had called for protests.
Several districts, including those formed recently, have been named after significant personalities like freedom fighters Alluri Sitarama Raju and former chief minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) founder Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao, commonly known as NTR. Likewise, two new districts have been named after the saint composers Tallapaka Annamacharya (Annamayya) and Satya Sai Baba (Sri Satya Sai).
The state's Home Minister T. Anita denounced the violence saying the protesters were led by anti-social elements. She expressed regret that the idea to name the district after Dr. Ambedkar, the founder of the Indian Constitution, was met with opposition. The decision, according to her, was made at the request of the people. Notably, the Konaseema district was recently carved out from East Godavari.
Opposition parties hit the state government over its 'failure' in controlling the situation. "The arson in Konaseema, known for its peace, is unfortunate," said the TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu. Jana Sena chief K Pawan lashed out at the state home minister for blaming the Opposition parties for the violence. Meanwhile, the BJP and the Congress too castigated the government for the situation.