January 20, 2010 / 12:10 PM / 10 years ago

Fresh protests erupt over new India state demand

HYDERABAD, India (Reuters) - At least a dozen students were injured as they clashed with police in southern India during a shutdown of the IT hub Hyderabad on Wednesday, in a fresh burst of protests over the creation of a new state, police said.

Violence erupted when police and paramilitary forces stopped hundreds of students from holding a procession with the body of a colleague, who committed suicide over the delay in carving a new state of “Telangana” out of Andhra Pradesh state.

“The situation is now under control,” B. Prasada Rao, the Hyderabad police commissioner, told reporters. He said 10 police were injured when students pelted them with stones.

India’s ruling Congress party-led government has postponed its decision on creating a new state after heavy protests against Telangana. But the delay drew fierce opposition from both sides.

Analysts say the turmoil could hit businesses in Hyderabad, a city that is home to companies such as Microsoft (MSFT.O), Google (GOOG.O) and Mahindra Satyam SATY.BO.

Supporters of Telangana statehood say the interior region has been neglected in favour of Andhra Pradesh’s dominant coastal districts. Opponents fear the loss of Hyderabad to the new state will cut off a major revenue stream for Andhra Pradesh, which has invested heavily in the city’s infrastructure. [ID:nSGE60403N]

Businesses, schools and colleges stayed closed and road transport ground to a halt as a 48-hour shutdown called by students’ groups drew a big response in Hyderabad and nine other districts in the Telangana region.

The shutdown, supported by all political parties, was called after two students set fire to themselves to protest the delay over the creation of Telangana.

Members of the legislative assembly from the Telangana region have threatened to resign en masse if New Delhi does not make an announcement on the formation of new state by Jan. 28.

Police fired into the air and used tear gas shells and canes to disperse students on the sprawling campus of Osmania University, which has been the site of earlier protests.

A quick resolution paving the way for the formation of Telangana appears slim as most politicians are sharply divided within their own parties on this issue.

For a Q+A on the controversy, click [ID:nSGE60403N] (Editing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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