Shops and businesses were shut and public transport was halted Tuesday as a two-day strike demanding the creation of a new state in southern India paralyzed the region.
India has 28 states and seven federally administered regions, and their size makes them difficult to administer and subject to movements for splitting them. The federal government says more consultations are needed before a new state is formed from Andhra Pradesh.
The strike came after more than a dozen lawmakers resigned from Parliament to press their demand that the new state of Telangana be carved from Andhra Pradesh. At least 80 lawmakers in the state legislature also have resigned since Monday.
They say the northern part of the state is underdeveloped and ignored by powerful politicians from southern Andhra Pradesh.
The Telangana demands have 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 weeks later the government appeared to put the plan on hold and little action has been taken since then.
On Monday, Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram told reporters in New Delhi that the Congress party was talking to the lawmakers in a bid to resolve their differences.
He said a final decision on Telangana statehood would be made only after the consultation process was complete.
On Tuesday, police and paramilitary troops patrolled the streets in the state capital, Hyderabad, but no violence was reported. All public gatherings and rallies have been banned for a week.
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 _ also face similar movements for new states. So far there have been no moves by the government to create separate states there.