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Police arrest 50, including 3 lawmakers, at protest demanding a new state in southern India
HYDERABAD, India (AP) ' Police arrested about 50 people, including three lawmakers, during protests Wednesday demanding the creation of a new state in southern India.
Shops and offices were shut and public transport was halted for a second day as statehood advocates pressed the government to act on their demand for a new state called Telengana be carved out of Andhra Pradesh.
Two state lawmakers and a member of Parliament were among those arrested during the demonstration in Hyderabad, the state capital, said A.K. Khan, a senior police official.
Police also fired several rounds of tear gas shells to disperse agitating students who pelted the police with stones at the city's Osmania University, Khan said.
More than a dozen Parliament members and at least 80 state lawmakers in Andhra Pradesh have resigned in recent days to press the demands for creating the new state. The federal government says more consultations are needed before it decides.
The size of India's 28 states and seven federally administered regions makes them difficult to administer and subject to movements for splitting them.
Telengana supporters say the drought-prone northern area is underdeveloped and ignored by powerful politicians from southern Andhra Pradesh. Opposition to the split comes primarily because the proposed Telengana area would include the state capital, Hyderabad.
The Telengana demand has erupted sporadically since the 1950s, but protests gained strength in 2009 when veteran politician K. Chandrasekhara Rao began a hunger strike. After 11 days, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government agreed to split the state. But little action has taken place since.
Several parts of India ' the Bundelkhand region in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, Vidarbha in the western Maharashtra state and Gorkhaland in the eastern West Bengal state ' face similar statehood movements, but the government has not made any moves to create states there.