Fasting Kapu leader arrested in Andhra

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Vijayawada, June 9 (IANS) Amid high drama, police in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday arrested Kapu leader and former minister Mudragada Padmanabham, hours after he went on an indefinite fast over quota for his community.

Police, which had laid a siege around his house in Kirlampudi in East Godavari district since morning, picked him up and shifted him to a hospital in Rajahmundry in an ambulance.

With rumours doing rounds that Padmanabham had consumed pesticides at the time of the arrest, police shifted him to hospital as a precaution.

Scores of his supporters were also arrested for trying to prevent police from forcibly shifting him.

Padmanabham, who is spearheading a movement demanding reservation for Kapus in education and jobs, began the indefinite fast along with his wife on Thursday morning seeking the release of those arrested in connection with violence at Tuni in January this year.

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Tension prevailed at his house since morning as police sealed off the area and kept his supporters away.

Some police officers approached him, saying they received orders for his arrest. The Kapu leader insisted that they produce an arrest warrant.

He subsequently locked himself inside and showed a bottle said to be containing pesticides through the window to the police and threatened to consume it if he was arrested.

Padmanabham alleged that the Telugu Desam Party has gone back on its assurance to withdraw cases booked in connection with the violence during Kapu protest at Tuni in January.

He went on fast after the government refused to withdraw the cases.

The agitation by Kapus had turned violent at Tuni when the protestors went on a rampage setting afire a passenger train, a police station as well as police and private vehicles on January 31.

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A few days later, he began an indefinite fast, demanding quota for Kapus. He ended the fast after assurances from the state government, including allocation of Rs.1,000 crore annually to Kapu welfare corporation.

The TDP government said it was working sincerely to implement the poll promise to provide quota to Kapus. It formed a panel to take appropriate steps for including the community in backward classes.



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