Andhra Minister Whose House Was Torched Blames TDP & Jana Sena for Violence

The Telugu Desam Party and the Jana Sena, however, denied the charges and hit out at the Andhra government.

4 min read
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Andhra Pradesh Transport Minister Pinipe Viswarupu has blamed the Opposition – Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Jana Sena Party (JSP) – for the violence in Amalapuram in BR Ambedkar Konaseema district.

Violence erupted in the headquarters of the district on Tuesday, May 24 over the Jagan Mohan Reddy government’s decision to rename the newly-created Konaseema district after Dr Ambedkar. Dozens of people, including 20 policemen, were injured in the incident.

The agitators also burnt down the houses of Minister Viswarupu and the local MLA, Ponnada Venkata Satish Kumar.

Speaking to TNM, the minister, while denying that any specific caste group had created the unrest, blamed the TDP and JSP for instigating the protesters.


“For the past four-five days, the TDP and JSP have been mobilising people against the government’s decision to rename the district. They even asked BC leaders from the YSRCP to join in their cause but the leaders did not side with them, and hence they hired rowdies,” the minister alleged.

The minister said that the rowdies had infiltrated the protest and created violence. “Even the Konaseema Sadhana Samithi (the group that has objected to renaming the district) would not have anticipated this,” he said, but added that the Samithi should be held responsible for the escalation of violence. “Someone should be held accountable, right?” the minister asked.

When asked if his house was attacked because of his Dalit identity, the minister replied, “I don’t think that is correct. I don’t work for my caste alone, I work for everyone, and people from all castes respect me. Some anti-social elements took over the protest and created a law and order situation.”

Last month, several districts were reorganised, and on 18 May, the government issued a preliminary notification to rename the newly-formed Konaseema district as BR Ambedkar Konaseema district, following requests by Dalit groups. Subsequently, Minister Viswarupu called it a victory for Andhra Pradesh’s Dalits and thanked Chief Minister Jagan for heeding to their request.


Why the Objection to Ambedkar’s Name?

The government’s move to rename the district has been opposed by some caste-based organisations belonging to Backward Classes communities such as Setti Bajila, Kapu and Nagavamsam. The Konaseema Parirakshana Samithi, which is trying to restore the Konaseema name, said that both Backward Classes and dominant castes are against naming the district after Ambedkar as it would “embolden” Dalits.

After visiting the family of a 17-year-old in Kandrika village who was allegedly attacked by some Dalits for writing a post against the district being renamed, a person from the Setti Balija community, who is a member of the Samithi, said, “The Backward Classes and OCs (upper castes) in the region are already victims of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act. They are further apprehensive of what Dalits might do if the district’s name is changed to Ambedkar. They fear what will happen to them.”

Claiming that even Backward Classes were happy with Ambedkar’s name in the district as he was the architect of the Constitution, the man said that Dalits attacking someone for merely posting a WhatsApp status against the inclusion of Ambedkar’s name has caused fear.

The Deputy Inspector General of Police, Eluru Range, Pala Raju, however, denied the claims by the BC organisations about the attack on the 17-year-old. “This particular incident happened in the Ravulapalem area and is not connected to the renaming of the district,” the DIG told TNM.


Protest and violence

Speaking about how the protest took form, the DIG said that people from different communities in the Kapu caste and other castes like Setti Balija, Nagavamsam, etc. gathered outside the Collectorate on Tuesday after messages spread on social media about a protest against the new name of the district. “Members from various communities gathered together in protest. Six representatives went into the Collector’s office to hand over the representation and that is when stones were pelted by those in the crowd. The police tried to control the mob and that is when the face-off began,” DIG Pala Raju said.

Anticipating protests on Tuesday, the police had imposed prohibitory orders under Section 30 of The Police Act and Section 144 of the CrPC (The Code Of Criminal Procedure), which bans rallies and meetings. However, the protesters came in large numbers, leading to a confrontation with the police.

To prevent the rally from proceeding further, the police resorted to lathi-charge and some protesters retaliated with stone-pelting injuring some police personnel.

A school bus was also burnt down by the now out-of-control protesters. The mob then went to Minister Viswarupu house and torched it. The police had to move his family out for their safety. The protesters then targeted Mummidivaram MLA Ponnada Satish’s residence and set it on fire.

“It is horrifying that a mob of 1,000-1,500 persons came and burnt our house. They were carrying petrol in bottles, which clearly indicated that they did all this intentionally,” the MLA said.

Opposition Parties Deny Charges

The Telugu Desam Party, BJP, Jana Sena and the Congress, however, hit out at the government over its “gross failure” in controlling the Amalapuram situation.

“The arson in Konaseema, which is known for its peace, is unfortunate. The Home Minister made baseless allegations on a delicate issue. This is completely a failure of the government and the police,” Telugu Desam chief N Chandrababu Naidu said in a statement.

Similarly, Jana Sena chief K Pawan Kalyan lashed out at the home minister for blaming the opposition parties over the Amalapuram violence. “It is nothing but an effort to cover up the government’s failure in maintaining law and order. The ruling party is seeking to put the blame on the opposition only to cover its failures,” Pawan said.

(Published in an arrangement with The News Minute.)

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Topics:  Andhra Pradesh   TDP 

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