Kapu leader Mudragada put under house arrest

RAJAMAHENDRAVARAM: Kapu community patriarch Mudragada Padmanabham was put under house arrest on Tuesday evening on the eve of his proposed Satyagraha Padayatra in East Godavari district, intended to turn up the heat on the State government for the inclusion of Kapus among the Backward Classes.
Accompanied by Kapu Joint Action Committee leaders, Padmanabham set out to Ravulapalem from his residence in Kirlampudi, when the police stopped them and informed them of his house arrest for the next 48 hours.
A furious Padmanabham returned home but vowed to hit the streets soon. He alleged that the state was under the rule of a dictator and said people were trying to free themselves from his clutches.
Though Padmanabham deferred his padayatra indefinitely, the police are taking no chances. As many as 3,000 police personnel besides 50 inspectors and, 25 DSPs have been rushed from Kadapa, Chittoor, Kurnool and Krishna districts to the Konaseema region.
The police move did not come as a surprise though.
Director General of Police N Sambasiva Rao had earlier made it clear that if Mudragada did not take permission for his protest, the police would go by the apex court guidelines and take stringent action.
In his reply, the Kapu leader had quipped that he was not in the habit of taking police permission for his protests, triggering tension in the region.
Earlier in the day, the police, who expected the Hyderabad High Court to stay the Satyagraha on a petition filed by an advocate in Rajamahendravaram, did not get any relief.
The court, while refusing to pass any orders to stop the padayatra, made it clear that citizens’ right to dissent cannot be suppressed.
Recording an undertaking of the Andhra Pradesh government that it would take steps in accordance with law to prevent violence or arson during the padayatra, the court observed that it was the duty of the government to maintain law and order.
The police have to take stock of the situation and see that no violence takes place in the State, it stressed.
However, it did admit the petition and clarified that the Supreme Court guidelines were binding on all the citizens.
But, the State government, which was caught off guard in January when Mudragada’s meeting at Tuni turned violent, was keen on avoiding a repeat of the violence this time around.
As many as 1,500 police personnel were deployed in Ravulapalem and police pickets posted in important areas in the district.
Police posts have also been set up on both sides of the road-cum-rail bridge and Sir Arthur Cotton Barrage and the Gammon Bridge at Rajamahendravaram, Kovvur and Vijjeswaram besides Ravulapalem and Siddantham bridges.
Water cannons  have been kept on standby in Ravulapalem.