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Telangana buses ply again, trains still hit

Sunday October 16, 2011 07:06:21 PM, IANS

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Hyderabad: The "people's strike" in Andhra Pradesh's Telangana region for separate statehood appears to be losing steam with public buses returning on the roads Sunday and schools deciding to re-open Tuesday even as train services were disrupted for a second day.

Unlike the first day of "rail blockade" when largescale arrests were made, there were only sporadic protests in the region, which comprises 10 districts including Hyderabad.

Police arrested about 200 people in Warangal, Nalgonda and Khammam districts when they squatted on the tracks.

As many as 126 trains remained cancelled for the second day though the authorities operated about 15 trains as scheduled and restored a couple of trains cancelled earlier.

The authorities are likely to restore the train services Monday as the Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC), which spearheads the movement, has called for a shutdown to protest the "police excesses" during rail blockade.

"We will observe a shutdown instead of rail roko Monday," said JAC convenor M. Kodandaram.

The shutdown is likely to hit normal life in the region even as buses returned on the roads Sunday after nearly a month.

Auto rickshaw drivers have also decided to go on 24-hour strike from Sunday midnight.

Acting tough, the police Saturday arrested over 3,000 people including 10 MPs and several legislators for participating in rail blockade.

Congress MPs Ponnam Prabhakar and S. Rajaiah were sent to judicial custody in Karimnagar and Warangal districts.

Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) MP Vijayshanti, who was also sent to jail Sunday morning, was later released on bail by a railway court in Secunderabad.

TRS legislators Harish Rao and E. Rajender and dozens of others were also sent to judicial custody.

Following appeals from parents of students, the government teachers Sunday decided to call off their strike. Telangana teachers' Joint Action Committee said the teachers would resume classes Tuesday.

The teachers, however, would not sign in the register and would not take salaries as a mark of protest over the delay in formation of a separate Telangana state.

Over 120,000 teachers in Telangana were on strike for a month as part of the "people's strike" called by Telangana JAC.

The teachers of private schools also decided to resume their duties. The private schools and colleges also decided to re-open from Tuesday.

The decision came after the government threatened to de-recognize those who failed to do so. School Education Minister K. Partha Sarathi said that the government would wait till Tuesday in view of the shutdown.

As many as 10,000 buses of state-owned Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corp (APSRTC) returned to the roads of the Telangana region after 28 days.

All 60,000 employees returned to work here and in nine other districts of the region following the Saturday night decision by their leaders to defer the strike.

The decision brought immense relief to those who travel on buses. There had been virtually no public transport for 28 long days in the sprawling region.

According to APSRTC, the strike caused a daily loss of Rs.7 crore.

Government employees, teachers and workers of state-owned Singareni Collieries are on strike for the last 34 days.

Coal production was badly hit in Singareni, impacting power generation and supply in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Though JAC said only APSRTC was exempted from the strike, the decision of he teachers appear to have come as a blow to the movement.

The management of Singareni is also scheduled to hold talks with striking coal workers Monday. The government is hoping that its employees and Singareni employees would also end their strike soon.

JAC, which comprises groups fighting for separate statehood, now plans to target ministers and legislators, especially those belonging to the ruling Congress, for not quitting to press the demand for separate state.

JAC is also expected to soon finalise the date for a march to Hyderabad to keep the movement alive.








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