HYDERABAD: The state government hardened its stand on Saturday, choosing not to resume talks with the agitating RTC employees. All bus services would function as usual from October 21, the government said, and reiterated that employees who abstained from work would not be taken back into the RTC.
At a meeting on the strike at Pragathi Bhavan, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao asserted that the agitators at bus stands would be dealt with sternly.
He said the RTC would operate 5,200 of its own buses (50% of the fleet), and recruit staff accordingly. Besides, it will operate 3,100 (30%) buses on a hiring basis.
As on date, 21% of the buses have been hired. The government will also give stage carriage route permission to 2,100 (20%) buses.
Rao announced that all educational institutes in the State would remain shut for another week on account of the TSRTC strike.
The Dasara vacation for schools, scheduled from September 29 to October 13, has been extended to October 20.
Schools will reopen on October 21. Junior colleges have also declared holidays for a week from October 14.
The union has also decided to organise ‘Dhoom Dham’ across the state on October 17, along the lines of the Telangana movement. A massive bike rally has been planned on October 18 to prepare citizens for the state bandh on October 19.
The JAC found fault with TNGO leaders meeting Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, at a time when RTC unions were expecting their support.
Senior Congress leader V Hanumanth Rao said there was a need to unite all parties and convert the agitation into a mass movement.
“We should be ready for another Telangana movement. If we do not reply to KCR now, he will end all trade unions in the state. We have to join hands to save democracy in the state,” he said.
CPM state secretary Thammineni Veerabhadram said: “This agitation is between KCR and the people of the state. If we do not give him a befitting reply, he will target all sections of society. We should ensure everything comes to a standstill on October 19.”
Meanwhile, Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) chief M Kodandaram said: “We need to not only unite all unions and political parties, but also try to involve the people in the movement.”
2 TSRTC employees attempt suicide in Khammam
Devireddy Srinivas Reddy, 55, a Telangana Mazdoor Union leader and driver working at the TSRTC’s Khammam depot, attempted suicide by dousing himself with petrol and setting himself ablaze at his residence in Raparthynagar.
Fortunately, his son rescued him, though he suffered minor injures. Srinivas suffered over 90 per cent burns in the incident.
Both of them were shifted to the government hospital in Khammam. Later, Srinivas was brought to Hyderabad for treatment.
Another driver, Venkateswarlu, who worked at the same depot, also attempted suicide in a similar manner in front of the district collector’s office.
He was saved as his colleagues foiled his attempt.
Following this, tension prevailed in Khammam as RTC employees and political party leaders staged a dharna in front of the collectorate.