The Kapu community in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday night withdrew their protest seeking reservation under Other Backward Classes (OBC) category after getting assurance from Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. Earlier that day, their agitation in East Godavari district's Tuni town had turned violent.
The protesters torched several coaches of a train, two police stations and 25 vehicles, including those of the police, on Sunday, injuring at least 19 people. Later at night, Kapu leader Mudragadda Padmanabham said they were calling off the protest, but threatened to start a "fast unto death" if their demands were not met by Monday evening, Hindustan Times reported.
Naidu appealed to the Kapus to not resort to violence as the judicial committee set up to to look into thier demand for reservation was working on it, The Indian Express reported.
"I am assuring the Kapus that we are working on giving them reservations. We have promised it and we will do it. There is no need for this kind of violence. I appeal to all communities to maintain peace," he said.
The Kapu community, which constitute 23.4% of the total population in Coastal Andhra had been demanding OBC status since it was revoked in 1960. They voted for the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in the 2014 general elections as Naidu promised to give them OBC status after he came to power in the state. However, the state government set up the panel only last month.
"Governments have only used us as a vote bank after promising to restore reservation. Enough is enough. Now we will see this injustice ends and reservation to Kapus is immediately given. Till then, let us sit on highways and railway tracks and ensure that the TDP government fulfils its promise of restoring reservation for Kapus. The TDP came to power because Kapus supported it in the last election. Now, it is time for us to get our due," Padmanabham said.
The violence on Sunday had erupted around 3 pm at a public meeting called by the Kapu State Committee at Tuni. They stopped the Ratnachal Express near Tuni railway station, ordered all the passengers to get down and set fire to some coaches. They also attacked the Tuni railway station and later blocked the tracks.
The Railways had to cancel 14 trains between Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam, and divert many others. At least four railway employees and 15 police personnel, including two officers, were injured in the violence.
Naidu said a circle inspector and a constable were in serious condition.