Telangana shutdown Monday, rail blockade cut short

Last Updated: Sun, Oct 16, 2011 19:20 hrs

Hyderabad: The Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC) Sunday cut short its three-day 'rail blockade' and instead called for a shutdown in the region Monday to protest 'police excesses' on the protestors, even as public buses returned on the roads and schools decided to re-open Tuesday.

Train services were disrupted for the second consecutive day across Telangana but the JAC decided to cut short the blockade.

After a meeting of JAC steering committee, its leader M. Kodandaram told reports Sunday night that there would be no 'rail blockade' Monday but appealed to people to make the shutdown a success.

Following the JAC's decision, the railway officials said train services would be restored in the region from Monday. However, MMTS or local train services in Hyderabad were cancelled in view of the shutdown.

Kodandaram said the shutdown was to protest 'police excesses' during 'rail roko', large-scale arrests and implicating the protesters in false cases.

He claimed that despite the government's 'high-handed attitude and misuse of power' to suppress the protest, the 'rail blockade' was a success. He alleged that police showed utter disregard to all directives of the Supreme Court and kept women protesters in the police stations.

'There were more policemen than passengers in some trains forcibly run by the railways,' he said

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.

Director General of Police S.A. Huda said 715 protesters were arrested on the second day of the blockade. Police booked 54 cases against the protesters. More cases under Railway Act were booked against Kodandaram at two police stations in Hyderabad.

As many as 126 trains remained cancelled for the second day though the authorities operated 20 trains as scheduled and restored a couple of trains cancelled earlier.

Monday's shutdown is likely to hit normal life in the region even as buses returned on the roads Sunday after nearly after 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 the 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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