94 held for damaging statues in Seemandhra

Hyderabad, Aug 7 (IANS) Andhra Pradesh Police have arrested 94 people for damaging the statues of national leaders during the ongoing 'Samaikya Andhra' agitation in Rayalaseema and Andhra regions.

Police booked 39 cases in connection with the attack on statues and booked the accused under section 153-A of the Indian Penal Code. If convicted, a person may be jailed for up to three years.

"Damage to statues is an insult to the memory of national leaders. It is bound to provoke strong reaction and cause animosity between different groups," said a statement from the office of the director general of police Wednesday.

During the agitation against the decision to carve out a Telangana state, the protesters have damaged several statues of former prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.

Police have urged the local community to protect the statues, which they themselves have installed, out of respect and affection for the national leaders.

A total of 124 criminal cases have been registered in the last one week and 221 people booked for offences like damage to statues of national leaders, damage to public and private property, rioting and assault. Over 1,000 people have been taken into preventive custody.

Police have also decided to act firmly against those making allegations against police and police officers.

"Police department is apolitical and works without any discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, religion and region," said a spokesperson.

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