A flash protest by the Kapu community demanding inclusion in the backward classes list turned violent on Sunday with the protestors setting a train on fire, damaging a railway station and a police station and blocking rail and road traffic in Andhra Pradesh.
Movement of trains between Vijayawada and Vishakhapatnam and vehicular traffic on Chennai-Kolkata national highway came to a halt as thousands of protestors squatted on the tracks and on the highway in East Godavari district in coastal Andhra.
Trouble began at Tuni during a mammoth public meeting of the community when a Kapu leader announced that they will sit on railway tracks and roads till the state government issues an order including Kapus in the BC list.
The protestors soon fanned out and stopped Ratnachal Express near Tuni. They damaged the train engine and later set afire empty bogies as passengers escaped in panic.
In other incidents of violence, four railway employees were injured when protestors attacked Tuni railway station and ransacked the office while six policemen sustained injuries when agitators attacked Tuni rural police station and torched police vehicles.
Chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu called an emergency meeting of top officials in Vijayawada to review the situation. He directed the police to rush additional forces for protection of public property.
Railway officials were also holding meetings with Kapu leaders, requesting them to end the protest as several trains had to be stopped at various stations.
The Kapu State Committee had organised ‘Kapu Garjana’ (Kapu road) public meeting at Tuni to protest the delay in declaring the community a backward caste.
Kapus constitute 26% of Andhra Pradesh’s five crore population. Telugu actor-turned-politician K. Chiranjeevi, former central minister Dasari Narayan Rao, former Congress leader Botsa Satyanarayana belong to Kapu community.