The movement for separate statehood to Andhra Pradesh's Telangana region further intensified Monday with a minister and three MPs of the ruling Congress joining the protests and the Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC) calling for Hyderabad shutdown on Sep 30 and a three-day rail blockade in October.
On the 14th day of the "people's strike", Infrastructure Minister K. Venkata Reddy and three Congress MPs joined the protests and even threatened to bring down their party's government in the state.
Another group of Congress leaders left for Delhi Monday for what they called their "last" visit to demand that the central leadership take an early decision on the issue. They have set Sep 30 as the deadline.
Venkata Reddy was among the Telangana leaders in whose presence the protesters attacked an official of the transport department for issuing show-cause notices to striking employees.
The Congress leaders expressed their solidarity with striking employees at the state secretariat, which was once again rocked by protests even as drivers and other class-four employees also joined the strike.
Venkata Reddy, and MPs Madhu Yaskhi Goud, S. Rajaiah and P. Prabhakar were also arrested along with Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leaders when they staged a road blockade protesting the power cut to farmers in Telangana.
The Congress MPs also asked the state ministers and party legislators and MPs to immediately resign to press for a Telangana state.
Mounting pressure on Congress leaders, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao threatened to attack houses of the party's public representatives if they remain silent over power cuts.
"We are asking Congress' public representatives not to cooperate with the chief minister who is deliberately cutting power supply to farmers of Telangana. If they don't cooperate, we will attack their houses," said KCR, as Rao is popularly known.
The government has imposed power cuts for farmers in Telangana due to the ongoing strike in the state-owned Singareni Collieries, which has affected coal production and impacted power generation in thermal power stations.
The domestic sector is already facing two to six hour power cuts every day while authorities have also decided to declare one day in a week as a power holiday for industries and also impose four-hour cuts during peak time every day.
Meanwhile, Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC) Monday called for a shutdown in Hyderabad Sep 30 and a three-day "rail blockade" across the region.
After a meeting of the steering committee, the JAC announced that a large-scale road blockade would be held in Hyderabad Sep 28. "There will be road blockade at at least 100 places," said JAC convenor M. Kodandaram.
The JAC, which is spearheading the movement for a separate state, also declared a three-day rail blockade in the region Oct 9, 10 and 11.
It also threatened to stop pubic and private buses carrying people from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions to Hyderabad. "If they don't stop plying buses, we will not be responsible for any consequences," Kodandaram said.
All buses of state-owned Road Transport Corporation (RTC) buses remained off road in Telangana for the eighth day Monday.
The JAC said RTC employees would take out rallies in Hyderabad and other districts on Sep 27.
It decided to lay siege to houses of Congress leaders on Sep 29, demanding their resignations for a separate state. The apex body also called upon people not to pay toll tax on Oct 2.
The state secretariat, the seat of governance, reverberated with traditional Telangana songs as the protests reached the door of Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy's office.
The indefinite strike by government employees for a separate state continued for the 14th day Monday.
The protesters tried to stop RTC buses carrying employees to the secretariat from Vanasthalipuram neighbourhood. Police intervened to control the situation. Some Telangana activists damaged a couple of private buses, police said.
After two-day "rail blockade", which paralysed rail traffic in the region Saturday and Sunday, the JAC gave call for shutdown of industrial units. A majority of medium and small scale units were closed Monday.
The IT industry in Hyderabad also began to feel the heat of Telangana agitation with protesters trying to stop software employees on road leading towards Hitec City, the IT district.
Holding flags of Telangana and raising slogans, the protesters blocked the road, leading to long traffic snarls. Police arrested 15 leaders of the JAC in Kukatpally. However, the police action evoked protest from students of Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU), who demanded their release.
The administration and public transport remain paralysed in the region while educational institutions were shut for two weeks. The coal production in Singareni Collieries remained crippled in three districts while majority of workers have returned to work in Khammam district.