At least 20 policemen were injured after fierce clashes erupted in Andhra Pradesh’s Amalapuram city on Tuesday as protesters set police vehicles and buses on fire over the proposed renaming of the newly formed Konaseema district after Dr BR Ambedkar.
The protests took an ugly turn when the house of MLA P Satish from the ruling YSRCP party was set on fire and furniture kept in front of Transport minister P Viswarup’s home was torched, according to a report by The Indian Express.
In a bid to improve governance and last-mile delivery of state schemes, the Andhra Pradesh government had on April 4 created 13 new districts while officially redrawing the state’s district map. Konaseema was carved out of the erstwhile district of East Godavari. Nearly six weeks later, the state government decided to rename Konaseema as Dr BR Ambedkar Konaseema district.
Local groups protested against this move to rename the district and had gone to the District Collector Himanshu Shukla’s office to submit a memorandum. However, things got out of hand when a face-off ensued between the police personnel and protesters. The situation escalated into full blown violence that spread across the town in no time.
While blaming “anti-social elements” and opposition parties behind the arson, Home Minister Taneti Vanitha said,”It is unfortunate that over 20 police personnel sustained injuries in the incident. We will conduct a thorough investigation into the incident and bring the culprits to book,” the Home minister said.
“Several police personnel have been injured. We are showing restraint while trying to bring the violence under control,” he said. The violence broke out as police used batons and fired in the air in order to stop thousands of protestors from barging into the district collector’s complex.
According to The Indian Express, the protesters, led by groups such as the Konaseema Parirakshana Samithi, the Konaseema Sadhana Samiti and the Konaseema Udyama Samiti have demanded that the region’s “traditional name” be retained. The government, meanwhile, said that the decision was taken after requests from the district’s “large SC population”.