Respect the report

The country awaits with bated breath the submission of the Justice Srikrishna Committee report on Friday on the demand for a separate Telengana state. Set up by the Centre in February this year, the five-member committee headed by Justice B N Srikrishna has gone into demands for and against bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh to create a Telengana state. Although the demand for Telengana goes back several decades, it was in the wake of the violent pro-Telengana agitation that erupted late last year followed by equally violent protests in the Andhra and Rayalaseema regions opposing the state’s division that the Centre decided on the committee to undo some of the damage caused by its flip-flops on the matter. The committee has studied the economic development and other issues in the various regions of the state and has held wide-ranging consultations with people, organisations and parties representing all strands of opinion. Much thought and effort has gone into its work and its findings must therefore be respected.

Reports suggest that the Srikrishna Committee would put forward various options mentioning the pros and cons for each. In fact, some say that it will provide suggestions for the way forward, rather than a decision. Thus it is unlikely that a clear-cut solution will become evident when the report is submitted to the Centre. The uncertainty over the report’s contents will give room for rumours, which all must guard against.

There are signs of political parties unleashing violence in response to the report. The Telengana Rashtriya Samiti, which is spearheading the demand for a separate Telengana, has already indicated that if its demand for a separate state is not conceded it will resume its agitation. Its opponents have threatened violence if the demand is conceded. Elements on both sides of the divide will seek to frame the report’s findings as a zero-sum game, as if the gain of one side will bring nothing but losses to the other. This is mischievous politics aimed at polarising society. Even if Telengana were to be created and Hyderabad made its capital, the rest of Andhra is likely to benefit from development funds. It is important that the government and civil society explain the report to the public and clarify what it is saying. Fudging issues will only fuel suspicion, encouraging people to fall prey to machinations of trouble-makers.

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