Hyderabad: Protests began in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions on Wednesday, a day after the UPA Coordination Committee agreed to the division of Andhra Pradesh and the formation of a separate state of Telangana.

Road transport came to a standstill while shops, business establishments and educational institutions remained closed in the two regions, usually referred to as Seemandhra. The shutdown called by Samaikya Andhra or United Andhra Joint Action Committee has evoked response from all major towns of the region. Opposing the division of the state, students and activists of various groups took to the streets.

Effigies of Congress president Sonia Gandhi were burnt during the protests. The protestors raised slogans of 'Jai Samaikya Andhra' and squatted on the roads. The protestors alleged that the Congress, which leads the UPA, took a "unilateral" decision to divide the state, and demanded the resignation of all public representatives to mount pressure on the party to withdraw the decision.

Buses of state-owned Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) could not come out of the depots as protestors staged sit-ins at all nine districts of coastal Andhra and four of Rayalaseema.

The shutdown hit normal life in Visakhapatnam, Vijayanagaram, Eluru, Kakinada, Vijayawada, Guntur, Nellore, Ongole, Chittoor, Tirupati, Anantapur, Kadapa, Kurnool and other towns. The protestors blocked traffic on national and state highways at some places.

Hundreds of vehicles were stranded due to protests on the Vijayawada-Hyderabad and the Chennai-Bhubaneswar highways. In Tirupati and some other places, protestors deflated the tyres of vehicles. Hundreds of police and paramilitary personnel have been deployed in the two regions to maintain law and order.

(Agencies)

Latest News from India News Desk