TRS chief continues fast, life paralysed in Telangana region (Lead)

Hyderabad, Nov 30 ( Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao continued his ‘fast unto death’ in jail for the second consecutive day Monday as the day-long shutdown called by TRS to protest his arrest paralysed normal life in Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh.

Chandrasekhara Rao, who was arrested near Karimnagar town Sunday before he could launch his ‘fast unto death’ protest demanding a separate state of Telangana, continued his fast in Khammam sub-jail.

For the second day in a row, the region was rocked by angry protests and violence by TRS cadres and students. Two more persons suffered serious burn injuries when they tried to immolate themselves to protest Rao’s arrest.

Schools, universities, colleges, shops, business establishments and petrol pumps remained closed in all the 10 districts of the region while the state-owned Road Transport Corporation (RTC) suspended all its bus services.

Tension prevailed in parts of Hyderabad and nine other districts as TRS workers took to the streets, enforcing the shutdown and staging protests. They also set afire two buses and a government office and damaged public and private property.

Raising slogans of “Jai Telangana”, TRS workers staged road and rail blockades in several parts of the region, affecting vehicular traffic and train services.

TRS workers also staged road blockade near Khammam sub-jail, where the TRS president is lodged.

Thousands of commuters were stranded as RTC suspended bus services in the region as a precautionary measure. TRS workers supported by RTC employees also staged protests at RTC depots in all the districts.

A section of government employees in the region also joined the protest and threatened to launch a pen-down protest from Tuesday. Lawyers supporting the demand for separate state boycotted courts.

Expressing solidarity with the TRS chief, employees of state-owned Singareni Collieries also struck work. The party received support from the employees of some other public sector companies and even parties like Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Communist Party of India (CPI), Madiga Reservation Porata Samiti (MRPS) and several organizations of students and workers.

All schools and colleges in Hyderabad remained closed. Osmania University, which witnessed violence Sunday, has announced that all colleges on the campus would remain closed till Dec 3. The university has also postponed examinations to Dec 7.

The campuses of Osmania University here and Kakatiya University in Warangal were again rocked by violent protests. Protesting the TRS chief’s arrest and police action against them Sunday, students of Osmania University took out a massive rally, damaged some cars and ransacked the house of M.D. Christopher, secretary of Higher Education Council.

Police, which came under criticism from all quarters for using excessive force against students Sunday, showed restraint. However, their Warangal counterparts beat up students in Kakatiya University, triggering angry protests.

Police said they arrested over 500 TRS workers in Warangal, Nalgonda, Medak and other places for blocking road and rail traffic and forcing the shopkeepers to down shutters.

Some TRS leaders and workers launched hunger strike in the police custody to show solidarity with their party president, who is likely to be shifted to Hyderabad this evening.

KCR, as Rao is popularly known, has written to superintendent of police of Khammam district that he be shifted to a jail in Warangal or Hyderabad. Police sources said he may be admitted to a hospital in Hyderabad.

The state cabinet, which met here Monday, discussed KCR’s fast and its likely impact. Chief Minister K. Rosaiah reviewed the law and order situation with his cabinet colleagues.

Meanwhile, some senior leaders within the ruling Congress party began speaking out on Telangana. They said they would appeal to the central leadership to address the issue at the earliest.