HYDERABAD: The destruction of statues of Andhra’s cultural icons by Telangana activists here has further widened the chasm between intellectuals of the two regions of Andhra Pradesh.
While writers, academicians and cultural artists from Andhra have come out openly condemning the vandalization of statues during the March 10 Telangana million march, their counterparts in Telangana are opposing re-installation of the statues.
Tank Bund on Hussain Sagar Lake in the heart of the city has become the venue for various organizations and individuals from both the regions to vent their feelings since 16 statues of poets, writers, social reformers and former rulers were demolished during the march, organized to demand a separate Telangana state.
Writers, poets, journalists, singers and intellectuals Monday marched on Tank Bund opposing the re-installation of demolished statues without erecting the statues of prominent personalities of Telangana.
Telangana Jagruthi Samithi (TJS), the cultural wing of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), held Telangana ‘swabhimana yatra’ or the march for Telangana self-respect.
Led by Kavita, daughter of TRS chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao, the participants walked on the road and held a meeting to demand the installation of statues of Telangana leaders.
The participants raised the slogans of long live martyrs of Telangana and Jai Telangana and condemned the attempts by leaders and intellectuals for using the incident to stall the movement for separate Telangana state.
If the government re-installs the demolished statues without installing the statues of Telangana personalities it alone will be responsible for its consequences, warned Kavita, who heads TJS.
"This is a fight for self-respect of Telangana," said Desapati Srinivas of Telangana Writers Forum.
"People in Telangana have installed statues of great personalities like Sri Sri and even worship them but show me one statue of a Telangana personality in Andhra region. The so-called intellectuals from Andhra are living in Telangana but are working to belittle the culture of this region," said another participant in the march.
The Telangana group marched a day after intellectuals from Andhra region staged a protest, condemning destruction of statues.
Some of them compared it with the demolition of Babri Masjid at Ayodhya.
"If 10 lakh bulls marched on Tank Bund, they would not have caused as much harm to the statues," said poet J. Ramalingeswara Rao.
Telangana leaders belonging to various parties had long been demanding installation of statues of leaders like Komaram Bheem on Tank Bund and some of them had even threatened to pull down the statues of Andhra leaders.
Statues of as many as 33 Telugu icons were installed on Tank Bund in 1980s by the then chief minister N.T. Rama Rao but the Telangana groups complained that the leaders from their region were ignored.
During the million march, which was held in violation of ban orders, statues of several icons including poets Yerrapragada, Sri Sri, Gurram Jashuva, Annamayya and Vemana, the famous king of Vijayanagar empire Srikrishnadevaraya and social reformer Kandukuri Veeresalingam were demolished.
A day later, Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy announced in the assembly that all demolished statues would be re-installed.
The police have already arrested more than 60 people for vandalizing the statues and have also booked Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC) convenor M. Kodandaram, Chandrasekhara Rao and TRS legislators Harish Rao and Tarakarama Rao for instigating violence.
The Telangana leaders have termed the incident an outburst of anger of people of the region, frustrated over the delay in formation of a separate state.
Meanwhile, condemning the arrests TJAC staged protests across the region Monday. Protestors burnt the effigies of the chief minister and Director General of Police Aravinda Rao(IANS)