Violent clashes and arson erupted in Amalapuram, Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday as protesters rallied against the government’s move to rename the newly created Kunasima district after Dr PR Ambedkar.
The police said the protesters set fire to a house belonging to the Yemeni Communist Party group, the ruling Moroccan People’s Liberation Army from Momdivaram, P Satish, and also burned furniture outside the house of Transport Minister Vizwarup.
Kunasima SBK Suba Reddy told the Indian Express that protesters also set police cars and buses on fire.
Several policemen were injured. “We are showing restraint as we try to control the violence,” he said.
Violence erupted on Tuesday after thousands of protesters tried to storm the collectors’ complex.
As the police used batons and fired in the air to disperse the crowd, the protesters responded by throwing stones.
Konaseema has been excised from the East Godavari District, and is among the 13 new districts announced before
YS Jagan Mohan Reddy led the government in April.
The trouble started earlier this month when the government announced that the district would be renamed after Dr PR Ambedkar. She said the decision was made keeping in mind the “large SC population”.
Kunasima’s headquarters, Amalapuram, where the clashes erupted on Tuesday, is a parliamentary constituency assigned to the Supreme Committee.
But protesters led by groups such as Konaseema Parirakshana Samiti, Konaseema Sadhana Samiti and Konaseema Udyama Samiti demanded that the “traditional name” of the tourist area be retained.
Located between the Bay of Bengal and tributaries of the Godavari River, the backwaters of Konasema are often compared to Kerala.
But Transport Minister Vizwarup blamed the protests on the opposition Telugu party Desam.
“The state government renamed Kunasima district as Ambedkar district while acceding to the requests as a large number of residents of the district are from SC community. But these protests were instigated by TDP to cause unrest.
The government’s public affairs advisor, Sagala Ramakrishna Reddy, said the renaming was issued after “a careful study of the composition of the population” and following demands from local residents.
He added, “It is unfortunate that the controversial forces have turned this matter into an issue.”