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Braving heavy rain, thousands of protesters demanding a separate Telangana state refused to leave Necklace Road here even as the deadline set by police ended Sunday evening. The marchers earlier clashed with security personnel.

Police used water cannons to disperse protesters after they squatted on the road on the banks of Hussain Sagar lake.

Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC) convenor M. Kodandaram and other leaders said the protest would continue till the central government agrees to the demand for a separate state.

Police had given permission for the march from 3 p.m to 7 p.m.

Earlier, protesters set afire two police and four media vehicles and tried to attack two restaurants and a multiplex. People from the city and neighbouring districts converged on Necklace Road as tension mounted due to clashes in surrounding areas.

Holding flags of their respective parties and groups, the protesters squatted on the Buddha Bhavan-P.V. Ghat stretch. Hundreds of youngsters occupied the parallel railway track.

Raising slogans of “Jai Telangana” amid the beating of drums and singing songs by Telangana artists, men, women and children from various sections asked the central government to make Telangana a separate state.

Leaders of the JAC, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Communist Party of India (CPI) and organisations of students, employees, lawyers, women and trade unions were on the dais.

Youngsters removed barricades and clashed with police to advance towards the secretariat and other high-security areas. Police fired tear gas shells in at least three places to disperse protesters who tried to remove barricades.

Police twice arrested MPs from the ruling Congress from Telangana who staged a sit-in in front of the chief minister’s office to protest large-scale arrests of people coming to Hyderabad.

A section of state ministers from the region threatened to quit.

The cancellation of dozens of trains and buses in Telangana region and the arrests of hundreds headed to the state capital angered pro-Telangana groups, who alleged that the government was trying to suppress the movement despite giving permission for the march.

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) was deployed at the chief minister’s camp office in Begumpet.

Several parts of the city resembled battle zones, with police sealing off the routes around the secretariat, the chief minister’s office and other high-security areas.

Legislators of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) were also arrested in front of the assembly building as they blocked traffic in support of the march.

Amid fears that properties of people from Andhra and Rayalaseema regions could be attacked, many roads were sealed off. Police chief Dinesh Reddy monitored the situation from a helicopter.

At Osmania University, students stoned police.

JAC convenor M. Kodandaram condemned what he said was a government conspiracy to foil the march by cancelling trains and buses from various parts of Telangana to Hyderabad.

Another Telangana leader, N. Janardhana Reddy, threatened to disrupt the UN global biodiversity meet opening here Monday.

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