Telangana strike enters 10th day; bus conductor hangs self over ‘fear of job loss’

Telangana strike, TSRTC strike, TSRTC conductor, suicide, TSRTC driver, set himself on fire, burned, Srinivas Reddy, K Chandrasekhar Rao, RTC merger with government, bandh, retired drivers, police drivers
Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao signed on the file pertaining to the increase in the retirement age for the employees of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation. File photo: PTI.

A TSRTC conductor allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself at his house on Sunday (October 14) night hours after a driver, who had set himself ablaze, succumbed to his injuries at a hospital here, police said.

Surender Goud, aged around 50, hanged himself from a ceiling fan at his house here. Family members broke open the door of his room and shifted him to a nearby hospital where doctors declared him brought dead around 9:30 PM, according to an official of the Kulsumpura police station.

Police said that Goud had allegedly committed suicide since he was apparently depressed over the “fear of job loss and the non-payment of September’s salary” due to the ongoing Telangana State Road Transport Corporation strike.

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Earlier, a 55-year-old TSRTC driver died on Sunday (October 13), a day after he set himself on fire, even as the strike by the transport employees in Telangana entered the ninth day.

Also read: TSRTC driver succumbs to burns; Telangana bus strike enters ninth day

D Srinivas Reddy, who was part of the group of employees on a state-wide strike for the last nine days, died of burn injuries, hospital sources said. The driver had doused himself with kerosene and set himself ablaze near his house in Khammam, about 190 km from Hyderabad, reportedly in protest against the government not agreeing to the demands of striking employees.

A large number of striking TSRTC employees gathered near the hospital when news about Reddy’s death spread, but police at the spot whisked them away in police vehicles.

Protests also broke out in other parts of the city and outside the city, with employees raising slogans and holding the state government responsible for Reddy’s death. The striking employees and workers observed silence at many places and later took to protest rallies and raised slogans like ‘Srinivas Reddy Amar Rahe’, while a candlelight vigil was also held at some places on Sunday evening.

Meanwhile, another TSRTC driver, aged around 40, doused himself with petrol at Narsampet depot in Warangal district on Sunday. However, police immediately intervened and foiled his alleged self-immolation bid.

Also read: Facing flak over transport strike, KCR mulls partial privatisation of RTC

The employees, who have been on strike since October 5, seeking the merger of TSRTC with the government among other demands, also organised Vanta Varpu (mass cooking) and formed human chains as part of the stir at many places in the state.

Condoling the driver’s death, Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said that the incident has pained him very much. The Union minister urged the Telangana government to take steps to resolve the issue amicably by holding talks with the unions. He also extended his condolences to the bereaved family.

Telangana ministers, leaders of opposition parties, including the Congress and the BJP, also condoled Reddy’s death.

The Joint Action Committee of TSRTC has given a bandh call in Khammam district on Monday (October 14).

Also read: Telangana turns into a battle ground as KCR sacks striking staff

Congress Legislature Party leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka extended the party’s support to the bandh call. Taking a tough stand, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had said that the 48,000 striking RTC staff had “self-dismissed” themselves as he had made it very clear that under no circumstances would the RTC be merged with the government.

Rao has also directed officials that only those who have stayed away from the strike would be given the September salary.

On Saturday (October 12), he had said that there was no question of having talks with the striking employees or taking them back, terming the agitation as “illegal.” Rao also directed officials to restore bus services and if need be, recruit employees, utilise the services of retired RTC staff and police department drivers.

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