A day-long shutdown called by employees of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) affected transport services across the southern state yesterday.
On 15th day of their indefinite strike, over 48,000 employees along with leaders and activists of opposition parties, trade unions, teachers and workers took to the streets to protest against what they call ‘dictatorial’ attitude of Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao.
Several of the protesters were taken into custody.
This was the first major and state-wide shutdown in six years against Rao. Many of the protesters were those who had joined hands with Rao for numerous strikes and mass protests during the Telangana movement.
Slogans of ‘CM down, down’ rent the air at several places in Hyderabad and 32 other districts as the protesters staged sit-ins and road blockades to condemn the government’s adamant attitude on the demands of the employees.
While shops and business establishments remained open and private vehicles plied as usual, the public transport services came to a standstill, causing inconvenience to commuters.
Stray incidents of stone throwing and attacks on temporary employees recruited by TSRTC to operate bus services marred the shutdown. About a dozen buses were damaged.
Most of the TSRTC buses remained confined to depots in Hyderabad and other districts with protesting employees staging a sit-in to prevent the vehicles from coming out.
The Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station (MGBS), the biggest bus station in Hyderabad, wore a near deserted look as services to most destinations in Telangana and neighbouring states were suspended.
Adding to the woes of the commuters in Hyerabad, Ola and Uber cab drivers also went on an indefinite strike from yesterday to press their demands to regularise the cab aggregator market.
The drivers’ association claimed that 50,000 cabs have gone off the roads but some cabs were seen plying.
The Opposition Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS), Jana Sena, Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM), trade unions, various organisations of employees, teachers and workers, student bodies and people’s groups extended their support to the shutdown call of the striking TSRTC employees.
Police arrested leaders of the opposition parties for staging protests along with the striking TSRTC employees at various places in the state. TJS president M Kodandaram, TDP leaders L Ramna and R Chandrashekhar Reddy and leaders of the Left parties were arrested by police in Hyderabad.
Tension prevailed at RTC Cross Roads in Hyderabad as leaders and workers of CPM and other groups sat on the road, raising anti-government slogans. The police bodily lifted the protesters to waiting vehicles and whisked them away.
Students of Osmania University tried to take out a rally but the police foiled their attempt and took them into custody. The university, which was the nerve centre of the movement for statehood, has been witnessing protests in support of TSRTC employees for the last few days.
Employees of the State Secretariat also staged a protest at BRK Bhawan in support of the striking TSRTC employees.
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