September 30, 2012 · 0 Comments
“Will the Telangana agitation continue tomorrow as well in Hyderabad?”
“Will buses ply this evening from Hyderabad to Bangalore?”
The otherwise-lazy-on-a-Sunday Hyderabadi is uttering the F-word like never before. ‘Fear’ that manifests itself in the form of safety nylon and metal nets over shopping malls and commercial establishments to guard against stone-pelting. Fear because of the manner in which statues of non-Telangana heroes were pulled down and vandalised on Tank Bund abutting the Hussainsagar lake during the last such show of strength in March last year.
Fear because prolonged days of agitation in the last three years have seen investor sentiment take a dip and the government reduced to a lameduck status.
Since November 2009, unrest in the Telangana region has affected business and educational institutions and politics in Andhra Pradesh has centered around whether the state will be divided or not. Worse, it has caused a metamorphosis in the way A looks at B and vice versa.
You are identified from the kind of Telugu you speak – Telangana Telugu, Andhra Telugu or Rayalaseema Telugu – and depending on that, treated as friend or foe. Osmania University’s image as a centre of learning has taken a beating and for outsiders, it has acquired a notorious image of a campus forever on the boil, affecting how potential employers look at candidates from the University.
Investors are worried about whether to do business in Andhra Pradesh and on the government’s ability to help them out in the event of a crisis. And the Telugu film industry, dominated by people from coastal Andhra, has had to deal with disruptions on sets and even inability to release films in the all-imporant Telangana region, called the Nizam area.
If only the Congress would bite the bullet on Telangana. But its leadership has dilly dallied all along, scared that the bullet is dipped in cyanide.
The Telangana story narrative has been one of discrimination and insult. Its votaries fume at how political parties are allowed to mobilise people by truckloads for a rally but the same is not allowed for a people’s movement. They find insinuations that the people of the region are uncivilised and prone to indulge in arson, insulting.
They refer to how sacrifices made by Telangana youth who killed themselves for the sake of a separate state are not respected. Today’s march only reinforces the divide. A case of Us versus Them. After a lull of nearly a year, the presence of a significant number of Telanganites only shows the movement is still alive and kicking. Its spread may not cover the entire region, as its leaders claim, but the failure of the state has been in giving people of a substantial part of the region the feeling that they are cared for.
It is a tribute to the aspiration for statehood that despite all the curbs, the Necklace Road is at the moment of writing, a sea of people. Today’s march organised by the Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC) has brought together political and people power. Apart from the political parties, the TJAC derives its strength from 60 employees unions representing some four lakh employees, and students.
But the Congress and the Telugu Desam leaders took the cake when it came to posturing. Half a dozen Telangana MPs of the Congress decided to sit on a dharna outside the chief minister’s residence in Hyderabad, only to be predictably detained by the police. Ditto with the TDP MLAs who agitated at Gun Park near the Assembly.
It suited both parties that men in uniform took them away since showing up at the venue of the march was fraught with risk as they could be physically harmed by the irate public, since the wishy-washy stance adopted by them has made them persona non grata among the people of the region.
The tone and tenor today has been confrontationist, to put it mildly. The police gave permission to occupy only a one km stretch on one side of Necklace Road, something that upset the activists, who wanted an ‘Occupy Hyderabad’ kind of Tahrir Square moment on the entire stretch. Intelligence sources said that was fraught with risk since Raj Bhavan is just a stone’s throw away and many commercial establishments further down the road could be targeted.
The cancellation of short distance trains meant activists could not get into Hyderabad in large numbers and the police was accused of violating the agreement by blocking routes leading to the venue.
At the march venue, an activist made a reference to the India vs Pakistan T20 World Cup match later in the evening, claiming this was no less than that clash. Ironical that a couple of days before the Joy of Giving Week begins, there is neither any giving nor any joy in Andhra Pradesh.
By Web Editor