Violence erupted in the coastal district of East Godavari of Andhra Pradesh after members of the Kapu community blocked highways and railway lines, and set train compartments on fire, demanding reservation and backward class status.
On 31 January, M Padmanabham, a key Kapu leader, said he was withdrawing the blockade. Stating that it was not planned, he hoped to settle the issue with chief minister Chandrababu Naidu.
The other day, the mobs went on a rampage in Tuni in the district and squatted on rail tracks and the national highway, bringing train and vehicle movement between Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam to a grinding halt.
The protesters had blocked the NH-16, set ablaze two police stations and 25 vehicles. As many as four railway employees and 15 police personnel were injured in the violence, two of them seriously.
Around 27 trains between Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam region were stopped after violence started and vehicular traffic on the Chennai-Kolkata national highway came to a virtual halt at Tuni during a public meeting held by the Kapu State Committee.
According to Indian Railway, all compartments of Visakhapatnam-Vijayawada Ratnmachal Express were destroyed, and the loss has been pegged at Rs 30 crore.
It may be mentioned here that Kapus comprise 27% to 30% of the population in AP and are currently seen as OC or Other Caste.
An additional 3,500 forces were rushed to the region and the CM convened an emergency meeting to deal with the situation along with DGP JV Ramudu and others. Mobile and internet services were temporarily blocked to control the agitation.
While the administration was clearing rail tracks, Padmanabham threatened to go on ‘fast-unto-death’ if the government didn’t respond to their demand for inclusion in the list of BCs.