A Peek into Vijayawada’s Gang Wars

Vijayawada has a legacy in the history of Andhra Pradesh. As a city that stands out in positive aspects, it is also notorious for gang rivalries and collective violence. The recent clashes between two student groups and the death of one has brought the city’s strong affinity for violence and gang wars. 
So, how did this start and where is its genesis? It is believed that the founding of the Justice Party led to the emergence of such disturbances. While the Congress and Communist Party were quite active in Vijayawada’s politics, the support of the land-owning community to the communist movement is said to have marked the evolution of violence. 
The clashes between the wealthy people who supported different political parties increased the intensity of gang wars, by eventually creating an ecosystem that thrives on such collective violence. These organised criminal gangs trace back their roots to political parties where leaders focus on gathering groups of students for large party/public meetings. 
As an incentive, these student gangs also become crucial for political parties in managing educational institutions and garnering votes during elections. While this network is funded dangerously by the political class and several vested interests, innocent students succumb to caste differences and gang wars between various groups. 
Students who belong to these gangs generally have the advantage of gaining full attendance and would not be obstructed from carrying out their activities. However, in the meantime, they are used as a bait with liquor and money during which they begin developing a false sense of power and 'being cool'. 
This toxic masculinity also reflects deeply among students who are part of these groups. Gradually, their involvement in crimes, land settlements and other illegal activities start taking root and sometimes, result in bloody clashes. 
Unfortunately, for those involved, they do not understand that they are pawns in the bigger conflicts. Eventually, they succumb to alcoholism or committing crimes, extortion and become part of the vicious cycle, unless they are wealthy enough to find another vocation that keeps them away from this shady business. 
These gangs and clashes have also been one of the reasons why the city couldn’t develop a metropolitan character despite having all the necessary requirements. The criminal gangs do not belong to just one set of group. In fact, the mix of these gangs is so diverse that their primary reason for clashes or violence is a conflict of interest. 
With a large tertiary sector and without much industrialisation, the city’s future and its youth need to be shown positive opportunities to grow and be more productive than being stuck in a rigmarole of violence. 

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