As the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) workers’ strike entered the 17th day on Monday, October 21, the Joint Action Committee (JAC) that is leading the protests has called for a ‘Sakala Janula Samara Bheri’, a public gathering with lakhs of people, to be held in Hyderabad on October 30.
Meanwhile, the state police today foiled the Congress party’s attempt to gherao Pragathi Bhavan, Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s (KCR’s) official residence in support of the striking workers.
Despite the High Court’s directions to the government and TSRTC Managing Director Sunil Sharma to negotiate with the striking unions, no such initiation has been made by the state government yet. The next hearing is scheduled on October 28.
Also read: TSRTC Workers’ Strike Enters 15th Day, Police Forcefully Detain Hundreds of Protesters
As the schools and colleges have reopened on Monday after the Dussehra holidays, an estimated 20 lakh students who commute using public road transport are said to have be affected. Although the government has claimed that alternative arrangements have been made by temporary workers, local media reports suggest that the situation is far from normal.
Reportedly, state municipal corporation truck drivers have gone for an unprecedented leave and have joined as temporary bus drivers.
Left parties and their affiliated student and mass organisations have joined the protesting workers at the depots. Speaking at Musheerabad bus depot in Hyderabad, Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] state secretary Tammineni Veerabhadram termed the October 19 statewide bandh as historic. “The TSRTC workers’ strike will emerge victorious as the complete state is in support of them. This is because the workers’ strike is also against the privatisation of TSRTC,” he said.
The main demands of the workers have been merger of TSRTC with the government, revival of TSRTC and revision of salaries.
JAC chairman Ashwathama Reddy has announced an action plan of protests for the next 10 days. On October 21, workers joined by their families held protests in front of all bus depots in the state; the next day, workers will appeal the temporary drivers and conductors to support their cause. On October 23, workers will meet the elected representatives; On 24, female conductors will be participating in a hunger strike; on 25, road blockade of national highways; on 26, workers’ children will participate in the protest demonstrations; on 27, (Diwali) protest demonstration highlighting the unreleased salaries; and on 30, state-wide Sakala Janula Samara Bheri with the participation of lakhs of people.
Congress MP Reventh Reddy who joined the march towards Pragathi Bhavan was detained. He said: “The rule of CM KCR, who is playing with the lives of thousands of RTC employees, should end. He should start discussions with RTC employees, he should compensate the families of the employees who have died. To protest his dictatorship and his autocratic rule, we had said we will touch the gates of Pragathi Bhavan and today we did it. Tomorrow, for sure, the 4.5 crore people in Telangana will bring down Pragathi Bhavan.”
Also read: TSRTC Strike: KCR Says No Compromise, Workers Intensify Struggle
After the strike began on October 5, two TSRTC workers have killed themselves while two others have escaped death after attempting suicide. Four persons have died of heart attack who were depressed over losing their jobs.
On October 6, KCR declared the striking 49,000 workers as ‘self-dismissed’ for participating in the strike. While this statement has created panic among workers, the government has not even given any clarification in this regard.