Jagan held ahead of yatra, one killed

Hyderabad, May 28 (IANS) One man was killed in Andhra Pradesh Friday when violence broke out between supporters and opponents of Congress MP Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy as the latter was taken into preventive custody while on his way to a controversial rally in Warangal.

It is not clear whether the victim – identified as Ambedkar Students’ Federation activist Prabhu – was killed in police firing or in gun shots fired by Reddy’s supporters at people protesting against the rally. The incident took place at Mahbubabad station.

The rally was part of a state-wide tour planned by Jagan to console family members of those who committed suicide or died of shock following the death of his chief minister father Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy in a helicopter crash last year.

To prevent Jagan from reaching Warangal by train, Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) activists and others seeking a separate Telangana state had blocked railway tracks. This forced the railway authorities to stop the train at Vangapalli at 9.50 am. Several other trains were also help up.

Like his father, Jagan is also opposed to the demand for bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh while the TRS is fighting for a separate Telangana state. Warangal district is in Telangana region.

Jagan was stranded at Vangapalli for three hours while his supporters waiting at nearby Mahbubabad station clashed with Telangana supporters, police said.

Gunmen of Jagan’s staunch follower couple Konda Murali and Surekha, a former minister, fired in the air. Police also fired to disperse the clashing groups.

Prabhu suffered two bullet injuries and died on the spot, police said.

High drama preceded Jagan’s detention. As soon as he began the train journey to Mahbubabad in Warangal district, TRS activists and various other Telangana forums came onto the streets to protest his entry.

A group calling itself Telangana Liberation Army came into existence Thursday and issued a statement that it had planted seven bombs on the railway tracks on Jagan’s route. However, police dismissed the claim.

With violence erupting in Mahbubabad, Chief Minister K. Rosaiah met Home Minister P. Sabita Indra Reddy and Director General of Police R.R. Girish Kumar. It was decided to take Jagan into custody.

Within minutes of Jagan’s detention, Konda Surekha swallowed what she said were sleeping pills in front of the media at Mahbubabad. She was shifted to a nearby hospital.

Another Jagan supporter and legislative council member P. Padmavathi fainted. She too was admitted to hospital.

Jagan told reporters at the Vangapalli railway station that TRS leaders deliberately instigated violence at Mahbubabad to spoil his programme. He said he would return to Warangal to meet members of the bereaved families.

‘They died after coming to know about YSR’s death. It’s my duty to pay them tribute,’ he said as police escorted him back to Hyderabad.