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Lift media curbs on Telangana, rights panel urged
Hyderabad, Jan 7 (IANS/PTI):
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Published on 8 Jan. 2011 12:01 AM IST
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The Telangana lawyers’ joint action committee (JAC) has sought the intervention of the Andhra Pradesh State Human Rights Commission to lift the restrictions imposed on media coverage in view of the Srikrishna committee’s report.
The commission Friday admitted the petition for hearing and asked Director General of Police Aravinda Rao to submit a report before Jan 11.
The JAC alleged that the restrictions on media, especially television channels, were an attack on the freedom of press. Advocates and journalists took out a rally in Warangal Friday against the restrictions on media.
The National Broadcasters Association (NBA) last month issued guidelines for television channels and cable operators in Andhra Pradesh. The police also issued do’s and don’ts for the channels.
Due to the gag on media, none of the channel Thursday showed the violent incidents that took place in Osmania University when students tried to take out a rally to protest the Srikrishna report.
Meanwhile, the Aravinda Rao told reporters Friday that action would be taken against media organisations which violated NBA guidelines after the committee’s report was made public.
The police chief found fault with a section of the media for unnecessarily sensationalising the violence in Osmania University campus. He denied reports that a student was injured in police firing. He clarified that the police used only pellets and not bullets while tackling the violence. Rao said 24 policemen were injured in the pelting by students. “The situation in the university is a bit tense but we are trying to restore normalcy.” The police are considering banning bulk SMSes to deal with rumour mongers.
‘Higher office aspiration behind Telangana demand’
It is the “demand for greater political space” and the “aspiration for higher offices” that has actually fuelled the craving for creation of a separate Telangana state, which is showing “rapid development” along most parameters. This is one of the significant findings of the five-member Justice Srikrishna Committee that studied the situation in Andhra Pradesh for over 11 months.
“Telangana as a region, notwithstanding some genuine grievances, is showing rapid development along most parameters. The regional sentiment for a separate state should thus be seen as a demand for greater political space, power and a stronger say in the affairs of the region and of the state,” the Srikrishna Committee observed in the chapter on “Sociological and Cultural Issues” in its report made public yesterday.
“As the political space has expanded at various levels of governance, the aspiration for higher offices has grown. At a pragmatic level, a new state can often provide the fastest route to high political offices,” the Committee noted.
Stating that Telangana groups have alleged “discrimination” in access to political power in the state, the Committee referred to their argument that several agreements and promises, including the ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’ signed during the formation of Andhra Pradesh, were not adhered to.
“Coastal Andhra had the maximum Chief Ministers (10) while CMs from Rayalaseema ruled the longest (23 years 9 months). Together, the Seema-Andhra region held the position of CM for 42 years while Telangana held it for only 10.5 years. Thus, the combined domination of the Seema-Andhra region is apparent,” the Committee pointed out.
Telangana region has certainly had a much shorter span of holding the position of chief minister which remains the all-powerful position in Indian states and this could be redressed to remove the sense of political alienation, it said.
Referring to the post of deputy chief minister, which was also part of the Gentlemen’s Agreement, the Srikrishna Committee said, “Of a total of 16.5 years for which there was a Deputy CM in AP, the position was held for roughly 8 years by both sides.
“This is again a violation of the agreement as with the longer period of post of CM being held by Seema-Andhra side, there should have been concomitantly a longer period as Deputy CMs for the Telangana side.”
However, the Telangana side cannot claim total lack of representation as it held the key Home, Finance, Revenue and Irrigation portfolios for fairly long periods, the Committee said.

 
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