Nineteen people have been arrested in Amalapuram of Konaseema district, Andhra Pradesh, after the homes of a minister and an MLA were set on fire on Tuesday, 24 May. The violence broke out over the proposed renaming of the newly created Konaseema district as BR Ambedkar Konaseema district.
The houses of Transport Minister Pinipe Viswarupu and MLA P Satish were set on fire in the violence. Around six vehicles, including a police vehicle and an educational institution's bus, were also set ablaze. The protesters indulged in stone-pelting in which 20 police officers were injured.
"Out of the 19, most are affiliated to Jana Sena Party. The others are affiliated to the BJP," a senior police official told The Quint.
The arrests were made for instigating violence and attacking the homes of the minister and the MLA. They have also been booked for rioting.
According to a senior police official of Konaseema, out of the 19, one person was identified as a rowdy sheeter. "The rowdy sheeter, too, was affiliated to Jana Sena Party," the police official said. However, The Quint has learnt from police sources that over a dozen people associated with YSR Congress Party were also named in the FIR, even though they are yet to be arrested.
What Had Happened?
Amalapuram, which is Konaseema district's headquarters, is a Scheduled Caste-reserved Parliamentary constituency.
On 4 April, the Konaseema district was carved out of East Godavari.
The state government issued a preliminary notification that sought to rename Konaseema as BR Ambedkar Konaseema district last week. The government had also invited objections, if any, from the people.
However, the Konaseema Sadhana Samiti and two other organisations objected to it. They wanted the name Konaseema retained.
On 24 May, about 183 persons tried to hold a meeting with district authorities to repeal the decision to rename Konaseema district after Dr BR Ambedkar. The police dispersed the crowd after they submitted their memorandum. However, according to the AP Police, the crowd returned after regrouping over WhatsApp chats.
"The message stating 'Do not disperse, Reach minister’s home' was sent to people in different WhatsApp groups," the officer told The Quint. The attacks and arson were preplanned, the officer added.
In the violence, over a dozen private vehicles were torched. The police also had to lathi-charge a group of people who were opposing the renaming of the district.
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