The indefinite strike by employees and workers of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation took a serious turn on Saturday as the opposition parties extending solidarity with them called for a series of agitations culminating in a complete shutdown in the state on October 19.
Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao who reviewed the situation has directed the police to crush the agitation with an iron hand and announced an extension of the Dasara vacations for educational institutions till October 19 to enable the RTC authorities to make additional transport arrangements for students.
The chief minister said the union leaders had behaved in the most irresponsible manner leading to 48,000-odd employees and workers losing their jobs. “There is no question of taking them back into service under any circumstances, let alone holding talks with them. They cannot be pardoned for causing inconvenience to the people. We don’t recognise their strike at all. It is illegal and we shall deal with them sternly,” he said.
KCR said salaries for the month of September would be paid only to those who had returned to duty by the evening of October 5. He hinted that all the others who had been on strike would not be getting their salaries though they had worked for the month of September.
The Joint Action Committee of RTC employees and workers, who had commenced their strike from midnight of October 4, stepped up their agitation with the support of all the opposition parties. The Bharatiya Janata Party, which has been making efforts to emerge as a strong alternative to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi, has grabbed the opportunity and taken up the issue on behalf of the RTC.
On Friday, BJP leaders led a rally of RTC workers from RTC Kalyana Mandapam in Bagh Lingampalli to Bus Bhavan at Musheerabad, where they staged a dharna, blocking traffic for more than two hours, raising slogans in support of the RTC workers.
The police arrested BJP Telangana unit president K Laxman and several others and shifted them to the Narayanaguda police station. Laxman who suffered a minor injury near his right eye and fainted during the tussle with the police was later treated at Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences.
Later, the JAC leaders along with the other opposition party leaders including those from the BJP, Congress, TDP and Telangana Jana Samithi held a meeting at Sundarayya Vignana Kendram and finalized a series of agitations for next week, including dharnas in front of all bus depots, blocking of national highways, formation of human chains and a joint rally by employees of other government offices, as well as a Telangana bandh on October 19.
The chief minister, however, castigated the opposition parties for trying to gain political mileage from the RTC strike. He sought to know whether the BJP-ruled states had ever run the RTC properly and merged them with the government.
“The Centre is privatizing public sector undertakings, including the railways. These parties have no support from the people. The government will not succumb to their blackmailing tactics,” he said.
He asked the RTC management to bring 100 per cent buses on to the roads within a week, including private buses and hired buses. “We shall not allow any agitations near the bus depots under any circumstances. We shall install closed circuit cameras at all the bus depots to identify anti-social elements,” the chief minister said.
Oct 12, 2019 18:30 IST