The ongoing indefinite strike by the employees of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) on Saturday took a new turn with a driver attempting self-immolation, triggering violent protest by others in Khammam district.
Tension prevailed in the district following incidents of stone pelting on the TSRTC buses at few places. Unknown protestors stopped buses being operated by temporary drivers, forced the passengers to get down and then attacked the vehicles. No one was injured in these incidents.
The driver identified as Srinivas Reddy poured kerosene and set himself afire on Saturday at Khammam RTC depot as the strike entered eighth day. His son was also injured while trying to save him. The driver’s condition is stated to be critical.
The incident triggered protests by striking employees in Khammam town and other parts of the district. Protestors near Khammam district collector’s office damaged the window panes of a RTC bus and attacked the temporary driver.
As TSRTC is operating buses with temporary staff, three incidents of attacks on temporary drivers occurred in Khammam.
Striking employees and leaders of opposition parties staged protests, blaming Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government for the driver’s attempted self-immolation.
They said Srinivas Reddy was depressed after losing the job. Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao has announced that 48,000 striking employees dismissed themselves by not joining the duty before the expiry of the government deadline. He ruled out taking back these employees into TSRTC.
Tension also prevailed at Bus Bhavan, TSRTC headquarters in Hyderabad when BJP president K. Laxman led a protest by striking employees. Laxman sustained minor injury near his eye when police bodily lifted the protestors and arrested them.
Joint Action Committee (JAC) of TSRTC employees unions on Saturday decided to further intensify the strike. It called for state-wide shutdown on October 19.
The chief minister rejected all the demands of the striking employees including the main demand for merger of TSRTC with the government. He also ruled out talks with them.