Telangana strike hits
transport services

HYDERABAD — The seven-day old indefinite ‘People’s Strike’ demanding formation of a separate Telangana state took a serious turn on Monday with transport services coming to a halt in all the 10 districts of the region and students’ staging a strong comeback to the movement besides activists enforcing day-long Highway blockades in various places.

By P S Jayaram

Published: Tue 20 Sep 2011, 11:38 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 1:52 AM

Over 50,000 employees including drivers and conductors of the state-owned Road Transport Corporation (RTC) joined the strike on Monday, grounding about 10,000 buses in 89 bus depots across the region, in defiance of government orders placing the transport sector under the purview of the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA).

The RTC employees raised pro-Telangana slogans and staged demonstrations outside the bus depots in the volatile region. With public transport employees joining the strike, the separatist movement appears to have taken a decisive turn since utility services including power supply may be pushed to the brink of collapse following the support extended to the strike by the 70,000-odd coal miners at Singareni Collieries besides teachers, lawyers and doctors also joining the strike.

Osmania University in Hyderabad, generally considered the hot-bed of the separate Telangana movement along with Kakatiya University in Warangal district, sprang to separatist activity on Monday with the students, who had maintained an unusual silence in the past six days of the strike, engaged the strong police force near the campus in frequent clashes.

Police lobbed teargas shells several times to disperse the students only to find them at the campus gates within a few minutes, trying to break through the cordon. Tension also prevailed near the prestigious Nizam College in Basheerbagh area with students pelting stones at the police, who resorted to cane-charge to bring the situation under control.

Meanwhile, most educational institutions in the region including the state capital remained closed on Monday since most students depend on public transport to commute to schools.

In other areas of critical importance, lawyers have been boycotting courts while doctors in government-run hospitals are staging protests in support of the demand for a separate state. Electricity department employees are also set to join the strike by not collecting monthly bills. While buses to cities like Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Guntur, Tirupati and other places in Andhra and Rayalaseema regions were cancelled on Sunday night, services to all the towns in Telangana were withdrawn early Monday. Rail services, particularly long distance trains, however, remained largely unaffected.

Leading a road blockade programme at Kodad town in Nalgonda district, Telangana Rashtra Samithi leader T Harish Rao said: “The movement has intensified and it will continue till we achieve our goal of separate Telangana state. We have only enforced day-long blockade of the Highways now, but will not hesitate to enforce blockade night and day on the Highways if the Centre doesn’t initiate the process for bifurcation of the state immediately.”

Meanwhile, Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy held a review meeting with Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajanarasima, Finance Minister Anam Ramnarayan Reddy, Director General of Police Dinesh Reddy and other official to take stock of the situation.

“The chief minister is very keen that the ongoing ‘people’s strike’ does not cause any inconvenience to the general public, and to that extent, he has directed the officials concerned to take all steps required,” Ramnarayan Reddy told mediapersons after the meeting.

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