Hyderabad: Thousands of supporters of separate Telangana state closed the National Highway No 7, throwing Rayalaseema and Bengaluru-bound traffic out of gear even as the police arrested leaders and workers of various political parties to foil the sadak bandh (road closure) on Thursday.

The NH-7 stretch between Shamshabad near Hyderabad and Alampur on the border of Rayalaseema region was turned in to a battleground between Telangana activists and the police.

Even as determined state machinery went all out to foil the protest called by Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC), backed by Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Communist Party of India (CPI) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), people of Ranga Reddy and Mehbubnagar districts came out in large numbers to enforce the blockade.

Shamshabad, Shadnagar, Jadcharla Bhootpur, Kotthakota and Alampur turned out to be the flashpoints as protesters and the police clashed. Angered over the arrest of the leaders, including legislators, party workers pelted stones at the passing vehicles.

The police resorted to force at Jadcharla and Alampur to disperse the crowds.

TJAC convenor Kodanda Ram, who was arrested along with TRS lawmaker E. Rajindar and Jupally Krishna Rao at Alampur and was taken to Rajoli police station condemned the “repressive measures” of the Kiran Kumar Reddy government.

“We are not thieves or dacoits to be arrested like this. The government is trying to crush our democratic and peaceful struggle, but they will not succeed. We will further intensify the struggle”, he said. “Our agitation will continue in police stations”.

TJAC had called for 12-hour blockade of the Highway No 7 to press the demand for tabling a bill in parliament for formation of Telangana state.

TRS legislators T. Harish Rao and Pocharam Srinivas, Telangana Jagruti leader K. Kavita, cultural artist Rasamai were arrested after three-hour sit in at Palamaku near Shamshabad.

TRS lawmakers K. Taraka Rama Rao was arrested at Annaram near Shadnagar. Rebel Telgu Desam Party lawmaker A. K. Harishwar Reddy was also taken into custody.

Students of Palamuru university were arrested at Alampur toll plaza when they were going to take part in the protest.

Senior BJP leader and former union minister C.H. Vidyasagar Rao and other sere arrested at another place. CPI lawmaker A. G. Mallesh and former Rajya Sabha member Aziz Pasha were also arrested.

At Annaram, BJP workers pelted stones on a bus and a truck in protest against the arrest of their leaders. At Kothapeta, police resorted to use of force when TRS workers indulged in violence.

TJAC was planning to give another call for the blockade of Hyderabad-Vijaywada highway No 9 in the second phase of the agitation.