Hyderabad: The battle lines are drawn as the apex body fighting for separate statehood to Telangana region is determined to defy prohibitory orders and go ahead with Friday's march to the assembly to press for its demand.
Police in Hyderabad have gone on high alert, imposing orders banning meetings and rallies, closing flyovers and roads leading towards the assembly building in the heart of the city.
The assembly has turned into a fortress with the deployment of armed policemen including personnel from the central paramilitary forces.
Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy once again ruled out giving permission for 'chalo assembly' when some ministers from Telangana region called on him. He said since there were apprehensions of Maoists joining the gathering, the government can't allow protest on the outskirts, let alone in the city.
The chief minister held a meeting with Director General of Police V Dinesh Reddy and other top officials on Thursday evening to review the security situation.
Across Telangana region, police arrested or hundreds of people as a precautionary measure to prevent them from leaving for Hyderabad. Policemen were checking buses and other vehicles heading for Hyderabad.
For the second consecutive day, students at Osmania University in the city clashed with police. Police stopped pro-Telangana students from taking out a rally. Protestors pelted stones and police retaliated with teargas shells.
Security has been stepped up and additional barricades and barbed fencing were erected around the assembly building to prevent people from entering the premises. The security personnel and other employees of the legislature were directed to be available for round-the-clock duty.
As the assembly is currently in session, the government is no mood to take any chances, especially in view of the violence during 'million march' by Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC) in 2011.
Unfazed by the arrests of hundreds of leaders and activists across Telangana region, the JAC has called upon people to gather at Indira Park, some three km from the assembly, for the march.
JAC chairman M Kodandaram condemned what he called the undemocratic and repressive attitude of the government and police. Stressing that the march would be a peaceful, he urged people to protest wherever they were stopped by police.
Kodandaram warned that the government would be responsible for any violence. He voiced his apprehension that government may use some anti-social elements to create trouble and malign the Telangana movement.
Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Communist Party of India (CPI), CPI-ML (New Democracy), groups of students, lawyers, government employees and workers are part of the JAC, which had organized 'Telangana march' last year on the banks of Hussain Sagar lake here.
Leaders of TRS, BJP and CPI called on Governor ESL Narasimhan on Thursday evening and urged him to intervene to stop arrests and to give permission for the march.
"Such protests were held on several occasions in the past. This is a democratic expression. We urged the governor to intervene. If the permission is given, we are ready to take the responsibility," TRS leader K Keshava Rao told reporters.
BJP leader N Janardhana Reddy asked the government to stop treating Telangana people as second-class citizens.