New Delhi: On the 38th day of their indefinite strike, the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) workers on Monday gathered at the houses of lawmakers, including state cabinet ministers, and held protest demonstrations against the police crackdown on the workers who marched on Hyderabad’s Tank Bund on November 9.
On Saturday, over 50 TSRTC workers were injured in the police lathi-charge, after which several hundreds of them were detained during the ‘Chalo Tank Bund’ rally called by the Joint Action Committee of workers.
Addressing the media on the police crackdown, JAC chairman Aswathama Reddy, said: “TSRTC workers and female conductors had gathered in large numbers for the Tank Bund protest. The police not only denied them permission for the peaceful demonstration, but resorted to lathicharge and are now claiming that Maoists participated in the rally.” He condemned the police version that Maoists were involved in the protest and urged chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao to immediately call them for negotiations and resolve the issue.
The JAC announced that they would complain to the National Human Rights Commission regarding the lathicharge and have called for 'Sadak Bandh’ on November 18.
Meanwhile, the state government run by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi(TRS) on Monday submitted an affidavit to the High Court. It stated that of the total 10,460 buses in TSRTC, as many as 2,609 buses are to be replaced, which would cost Rs 750 crore. “And by March 2020, another 476 buses are to be replaced. if these buses are not replaced, it would cause air pollution and would be dangerous to passengers,” the government claimed in its affidavit. The government has been maintaining its stand that TSRTC’s merger with the government was not on cards, which is one of the demands being made by workers. It also claims to have infused over Rs 4,000 crore to TSRTC in the past five years.
While the government termed the strike as unlawful, the High Court has stated that it would decide on the matter of legality.
It is to be noted that there has been no official negotiation between the government and the striking unions since October 5, the day the strike began. While TSRTC Managing Director Sunil Sharma once called the union leaders for a meeting, no negotiations took place.
On the other side, Chief Minister KCR has several times termed the strike as ‘a ploy by union leaders’ and even gave a deadline of November 5 to join or lose their jobs. However, the workers have been firm on their demands and on the going ahead with their strike.
According to the JAC, 23 persons including workers and their family members have lost their lives till now due to suicides and heart attacks, fearing their fate in TSRTC.
All Opposition political parties, including Congress, Telangana Jana Samithi, Left parties and Bharatiya Janata Party have extended support to the striking workers.
Meanwhile, joining the organisations that are supporting the TSRTC strike, non-resident Indians (NRIs) from Telangana, too, held protests demonstrations in the US in support of the workers’ strike on November 10.