Friday, July 22, 2011

Telangana bandh - Another Day of Forced Closure

Another Telangana bandh called for by the TJAC, and supported by all parties concerned who are keen to get a separate state, today. The bandh was primarily to protest the government's 'fascist' attitude in invoking the ESMA against striking government workers (should the government let hem strike?) and also to protest against the lackadaisical attitude of the government in bringing the body of a Telangana supporter in Delhi, a suicide by hanging from a tree, to draw attention to the creation of a separate state, one young man called Yadhi Reddy.

I was taken unawares again as everything shut down systematically in the morning. I heard that some schools has sent messages yesterday that they were closed today. When I went out today all the petrol bunks were open but by 9 in the morning they were shutting down, probably after someone called them. Long lines, closed sign boards, children returning home, people waiting for buses and probably not getting them, empty roads, people packed auto rickshaws, closed business enterprises, the city was comprehensively shut. Bandh.

One feels for Yadhi Reddy. A full life snuffed out. Was is worth killing oneself for? At this stage? Would Yadhi Reddy have been more helpful to the cause of Telangana alive? Yes, he would have been. Especially when the TJAC statement talks of the ESMA first and Yadhi Reddy later.

Sometimes you wonder why it is that no leader is sitting down on an indefinite fast. A fast unto death by a leader would be far more forceful. But it requires conviction. Half the conviction that Yadhi Reddy had before he hung himself from the tree. Not a fast like what some of the leaders undertook and broke, weak attempts that were more known for the way they broke them up. What this movement needs is to show some real conviction. Any number of these poor people who give up their lives, students spoiling their careers and worse their attitude to civil society, losses incurred by business establishments, threats and vandalism, cannot force the issue. Only something like a fast unto death calls for prompt action from the Centre. And that of a big leader who has the conviction for that.

But which of the leaders would want to do that? Who would bell the cat and say I will do that and maybe die if need be in the cause because my region needs it. The rest of you guys do a good job after I sacrifice my life and give to our region what we promised it. I am waiting to see who among this lot of leaders who are regularly meeting, calling for bandhs, giving speeches will do that.

In fact it will be good if the search begins for the leader who is willing to go down, just as Potti Sriramulu did for the creation of a separate Andhra many years ago. The staunch Gandhian, (of whom Gandhi once famously remarked that if we had ten more stalwarts like Sriramulu, we will gain independence in one year) in his quest to create a separate cultural identity for the Telugu speaking people, fasted for 58 days, going into coma, coughing up blood, not able to drink water, yet not relenting from public pressure to give up the fast. Upon his death, thousands joined the funeral procession on Mount Road resorting to violence that spread all over Andhra, causing seven deaths in police firing. Three days after his death Nehru announced the formation of Andhra Pradesh.

It is time that the Telangana movement started to look for someone in that ilk. Otherwise much of this movement will be known for its big talk, hooliganism on Tank Bund and cooking on the roads. And little political conviction from its leaders.

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