Amaravati: The Andhra Pradesh bandh called by the Left parties on Friday, opposing the privatisation of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP), evoked moderate response, even as the ruling YSR Congress and other major parties, barring the BJP-Jana Sena combine, extended support.
Stray incidents were reported from different places in the state but overall the bandh ended peacefully, police sources here said.
The AP State Road Transport Corporation suspended its services till afternoon while educational institutions remained shut.
Cinema halls did not run the morning show but major businesses were not affected by the bandh.
Employees of the state Secretariat sported black badges and attended work, in solidarity with the protesters.
The Telugu Desam Party, the Congress, trade unions and other organisations too extended support to the bandh, denouncing the Centre’s decision to go ahead with a “strategic sale” of the VSP, operated by the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited.
They all demanded that the Centre immediately withdraw from the move to sell the VSP to private parties.
The protesters took out rallies in Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Guntur and other main centres in the state, with the slogan ‘Visakha Ukku–Andhrula Hakku’ (Vizag Steel is Andhra’s Right).
Andhra Pradesh Congress president S Sailajanath, who led a rally in Visakhapatnam, alleged that the YSRC and the BJP were colluding to privatise valuable government assets in the state.
Farmers in Amaravati region, who themselves were agitated for over a year now opposing the relocation of the state capital, extended support to the agitation and took out a rally.
There was an altercation between the protesters and the police at Mandadam village in Amaravati as the latter tried to stop the rally.
In Kaikaluru in Krishna district, activists of YSRC and TDP got engaged in a scuffle over a banner but police intervened and dispersed them.
In Visakhapatnam, state Minister M Srinivasa Rao, MPs M V Satyanarayana and V V Sai Reddy led the protest against the steel plant privatisation and organised a ‘human chain’.
In Guntur city, the protesters were apprehended by the police as they tried to force closure of shops in the commercial area Brodipet and Arundelpet.
The protesters organised a road blockade at Shankar Vilas Centre, causing traffic jam.
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