Traffic on Hyderabad-Bangalore national highway was thrown out of gear Thursday as, defying ban orders, pro-Telangana supporters came out on the road at several places in Mahabubnagar district to enforce a 24-hour-long blockade to demand a separate Telengana.
Police arrested hundreds of protesters including leaders of various political parties who squatted on the highway in response to 'Sadak Bandh' called by Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC) to urge the central government to immediately carve out a Telangana state.
JAC convenor M. Kodandaram, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) legislators K. Tarakarama Rao, E. Rajender and Harishwar Reddy were among dozens of leaders arrested by the police for staging protests on the highway despite police not giving permission for the same.
Tension prevailed at Alampur, Annaram and Jadcherla in Mahabubnagar district as protestors damaged few trucks and buses following the arrests of their leaders, police said.
Those arrested include leaders of the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The protestors also came out on the highway with bullock carts to stop the vehicular traffic. Police had a tough time in controlling them as they squatted on the highway at several points.
Students and lawyers also joined the protests, focusing on Mahabubnagar district to stop vehicles entering Telangana coming from Kurnool district, which is a part of the Rayalaseema region.
Hundreds of vehicles were stranded at Alampur, about 160 km from Hyderabad, as raising slogans of "Jai Telangana" the activists of JAC and TRS stopped the traffic.
State-owned Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) suspended bus services between Hyderabad and Kurnool and other towns of Rayalaseema.
A senior police officer said that 650 people have been arrested in Mahabubnagar district since Thursday morning. Over 6,000 policemen were deployed on the highway. Prohibitory orders banning assembly of five or more persons were also imposed.
JAC convenor Kodandaram condemned the arrests and said he and other leaders would continue their protests in various police stations.
He accused the government of suppressing a peaceful and democratic protest to demand Telangana state.