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Protests, blockades continue in Telangana
Published on 26 Dec. 2009 11:52 PM IST
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Rallies, hunger strikes and demonstrations continued for the fourth consecutive day on Saturday in Andhra Pradesh’s Telangana region, where the demand for a separate state keeps gaining momentum. Protests were held by activists of all political parties, students, lawyers and other sections of society in the region comprising 10 districts, including Hyderabad. Though the all-party Joint Action Committee (JAC) has declared that there would be no shutdown at least till Monday, protesters continued to stage road and rail blockades at some places. Several short distance trains had to be cancelled. On JAC’s appeal, protests are being held at the village and mandal levels as well. Leaders of various parties and students launched relay hunger strikes. The JAC has, however, appealed to people to stay peaceful. Government employees too joined the protest on Saturday, attending office wearing black badges. They have also threatened an indefinite strike to paralyse the official machinery. South Central Railway (SCR) Saturday cancelled short-distance trains on Secunderabad-Kazipet, Kazipet-Dornakal and Secunderabad-Mudkhed routes as long distance trains were running late due to rail blockades and also due to the damage caused to signalling systems by protestors. The state-owned Road Transport Corporation (RTC), which suffered a loss of Rs 120 crore due to the agitation this month, has still not completely restored its bus services in the region. Several RTC buses were set afire or damaged in the fresh bout of violence that broke out across the region on Wednesday evening when the central government made the second statement on Telangana, stressing the need to hold consultations with all political parties on the issue following 13 days of protests in the other two regions of Andhra Pradesh. The pro-Telangana parties and groups, which see the latest statement as a u-turn by the government, are now demanding that the constitutional process with a time-frame be initiated immediately to carve out the separate state. To mount pressure, about 70 legislators cutting across party lines have submitted their resignations to the Assembly speaker. All 13 state ministers from the region Friday sent their resignation to Congress party president Sonia Gandhi. With the JAC likely to call an indefinite shutdown from Tuesday, paramilitary forces and additional police forces from neighbouring areas were being deployed in the region. The forces on Saturday reached Warangal town where the situation at Kakatiya University continued to be tense. Police and paramilitary force have also been deployed at Osmania University here as a ‘fast unto death’ by a group of students entered the fourth day. The university, which is the nerve centre of the agitation, has declared that it would be closed till January 5.

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