Telangana: RTC employees' bandh passes off peacefully

Buses parked at a depot during TSRTC employees' strike over completion of their various demands, at Secundrabad in Hyderabad. (PTI Photo)

The state-wide bandh called by striking Telangana State Road Transport Corporation employees in support of their demands, passed off peacefully on Saturday, barring stray incidents of pelting of stones at buses.

"There was no violence. there were minor incidents like pelting of stones at buses. It was largely peaceful...All arrangements had been made...Some protesters were taken into preventive custody," a senior police official told PTI.

The opposition Congress, BJP TDP and Left parties, which had extended support to the strike, staged protests in Hyderabad and other places in Telangana. Hitting out at Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao for 'dismissing' the striking employees, Congress Legislature Party leader M Bhatti Vikramarka accused him of behaving like a dictator.

BJP leader and former MLC P Sudhakar Reddy claimed that their state unit president K Laxman and party MLC N Ramachander Rao were shifted to a police station while holding a protest at Abids in the city. CPI(ML) New Democracy joint secretary V Ranga Rao claimed that his index finger was cut during a protest march here when police prevented them from moving ahead. Demanding that the government invite protesting employees for talks, Telangana Jana Samiti president M Kodandaram demanded to know what else was a constitutional crisis if the government did not respect even the court.

He was referring to the Telangana High Court directing the government and RTC and the employees to hold talks to resolve the issue. The opposition leaders and activists took out motorcycle rallies and organised other forms of protest in support of RTC employees at various places in the state. CPI national secretary K Narayana said in a statement that his party organised a protest at Telangana Bhavan in New Delhi. The state government employees undertook lunch hour demonstrations in support of the RTC staff.

The employees' leader Ravinder Reddy said the government should invite RTC employees for talks. The RTC employees unions Joint Action Committee leader Aswaddhama Reddy said they would meet political parties on Sunday while agitating workers would hold placards and meet people near bus depots. He warned that the strike would be intensified if the government failed to address their grievances. Bus operations in Telangana were badly hit due to the bandh, while shops and other establishments remained closed at some places. RTC has been running services by deploying temporary drivers and conductors, a move objected to by the protestors at some places. RTC said in a release that it was making efforts to increase the availability of buses to the passengers.

As per transport minister Puvvada Ajay Kumar's directive, RTC Managing Director Sunil Sharma was continuously holding review meetings with officials to improve bus services, it said. On Saturday, 516 buses were operated till 6 PM in the state, it said. Different employees and workers unions of TSRTC began the indefinite strike from October 5 across Telangana on a call given by the JAC of TSRTC, demanding merger of the RTC with the government and recruitment to various posts, among others. The striking employees, workers of opposition parties and others have been organising protests in support of their demands and against the TRS government then.

Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan on October 17 urged the government and RTC management to take all necessary steps for alternative transport arrangements

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