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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Srikrishna promises to submit report on time - T-Panel Gets Down To Business, To Go In Full Speed

New Delhi: Even as it admitted that there was paucity of time, the high level committee on Telangana which met for the first time on Saturday underlined the fact the report would be given well within the prescribed deadline of December 31. To a question on whether the tenure of the committee would be like that of Liberhan panel on Babri Masjid demolition , which got many extensions , chairperson of the Committee Justice B N Srikrishna said he had headed many panels in the past and completed the task in two-thirds time. You can examine the records, he said even as member-secretary V K Duggal added that the time was less and work would have to be done in full speed to meet the prescribed time schedule.

Duggal said that the committee would be travelling to Hyderabad and other places in Andhra Pradesh if required , to examine the demand for both separate Telangana and the status quo on maintaining the unity of Andhra Pradesh.We have chalked out certain plans. We propose to have interaction with all sections of the society as soon as possible. We will ascertain their views. We will also hold a series of meetings with different strata of people in the affected areas, Srikrishna said after the three-hourlong meeting. He said the committee will try and see what can be done on the issue so that all people are happy and there is peace and prosperity throughout the state without giving rise to violence and internecine quarrels . The committee plans to meet twice a month and will have its second meeting on February 25.

Asked about protests over the issue, Srikrishna said, I am not worried about protests. We will do our job and present the report and it is for the government to take a decision. Elaborating on the committees plans, Duggal said, The committee will issue a public notice in newspapers in Delhi and Hyderabad. All interested groups, civil rights organisations, trade organisations and student bodies can send memorandum and their views to us. We will examine them and submit a report to the government. As the meeting began, seven students, including some girls, tried to stage a protest outside its venue, Vigyan Bhawan, but were detained by the police, who were present in strength. The committee was constituted by the Centre on February 3, nearly two months after it announced that it will initiate steps for the formation of a separate state of Telangana. The seven-point terms of reference, announced by the Centre on Friday, has mandated the committee to examine the situation in the state of Andhra Pradesh with reference to the demand for a separate state of Telangana as well as the demand for maintaining the present status of united Andhra .

Besides Justice Srikrihna, the committee comprises Ranbir Singh, Abusaleh Shariff, Ravinder Kaur and former home secretary Vinod K Duggal as member-secretary.
OU calm as students turn to studies

Hyderabad: Students of Osmania University seem to have chosen academics over agitation as the campus which in the last two months repeatedly erupted into violence at the slightest provocation remained silent on Saturday. With most students leaving the campus to prepare for their semester exams and other competitive tests, OU remained calm on Saturday even as police and paramilitary personnel remained stationed on the deserted campus lawns. University authorities had earlier declared that the Ist and IIIrd semester examinations which were postponed indefinitely owing to unrest on campus would now be held from February 15. The authorities announced on February 11 that examinations will be held every Monday as per the timetable put up on OU official website. Since Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (Gate) for admissions to M Tech courses in the country is also scheduled to be held on Sunday, the students seemed busy with their studies and kept their distance from the Telangana agitation.

University authorities view the calm on campus as a welcome sign to go ahead with their academic plans. Now we are confident of going ahead with the academic schedule and feel that there will be no more hindrances. We are glad that the agitators are not disrupting the academic schedule, said B S Rao, spokesperson, OU. Most students did not bother to even venture out of their hostels on Saturday morning in spite of several calls to hold rallies. The OU Joint Action Committee (OUJAC), Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and Telangana Universities Students Joint Action Committee tried to conduct rallies on campus to add vigour to the bandh call. But there was no response.

The scene remained mostly dull on Saturday with only a handful of students holding protest meetings, in which less than 20 students participated. However, by 1 pm even those few students who had gathered before Arts College which was once the hub of the T protests dispersed with no plans of coming back.
Interestingly, with a long weekend at hand most students from the campus were found to have left for their native places. Even the usual song and dance sessions were not held as most campus balladeers left campus to prepare for exams. Even Osmania JACs plan to hold a rally to the OU police station became a non starter as no student turned up in support. Ironically , OUJAC had even come up with a nine point protest plan on Friday evening which asked the students to target public representatives on the bandh day. Even the once active OU professors were missing from action.

When asked about the lull, OUJAC leaders said that most of the students had gone to the districts to hold protest meetings there. Students left the campus to hold protests in Telangana districts and the bandh is complete outside Hyderabad , claimed an OUJAC representative. Some attributed the lull to the arrest of their leaders by the police. Meanwhile, ABVP and OU JAC decided to disrupt the assembly session which is scheduled to start on Feb 15.
City cool to T bandh

Hyderabad: The city remained open on Saturday with the denizens largely ignoring the bandh call of T supporters. It was a normal weekend with banks, supermarkets , malls, multiplexes and significantly ATMs and petrol pumps remaining open. With APSRTC also plying its buses, albeit in smaller numbers , the bandh impact on the city was minimum. Enough is enough. You just cant shut the city at the drop of a hat. Its not a question of whether the T demand is justified or not. Life cannot be forced to a standstill, said Animesh Mittal, a young techie. I hope the T supporters will take a cue out of the reaction of the citizens and give up the path of bandhs and strikes, added V Mohan, a physician.

Being a weekend there was not much traffic on arterial roads, but commercial establishments pulled up their shutters for work by noon. In a telling sign, Tarnaka, the hotbed of Telangana agitation , remained largely peaceful with its market areas wearing a much normal look given that there wasnt any action on the Osmania University campus. Events in the city were held as per schedule with organisers maintain-ing that they had no reason to postpone or cancel them. The American Chamber of Commerce in India (Amcham) went ahead with its event at the Marriott Hotel & Convention Centre at Tank Bund with police commissioner A K Khan as its chief guest. Film screenings organised by film clubs and art exhibitions took off as per schedule.

It (bandh) has now become a regular issue and we cant postpone everything, said Chandrika Chiduruppa, executive secretary, Amcham. The Hyderabad Film Club too went ahead with its screening of a Korean film at Sarathi Studios, Ameerpet. Its an indoor event, reasoned the clubs secretary, Prakash Reddy. It was all calm today since morning, says Tarnaka resident and citizen activist V B J Chelikani Rao, who organised a meeting of resident association members from across the city at Somajiguda on Saturday. The lull (in activism), he said, was expected . Civil society wants political opinion to be discussed but life should go on, Rao said. It was in the Andhra pockets of the city that the bandh impact was more visible , though not as much as the previous bandhs. Only 15 per cent shops were open until later afternoon but it was all normal by evening, said Kukatpally resident, Venugopal, who added that the impact was lesser this time around. While shops remained closed in A S Rao Nagar and even at Dilsukhnagar they opened later in the day.

Most shops opened late because it was Mahashivratri on Friday and not entirely because of the bandh, said N Sudhakar, a shopowner. Commuters were hit with 40 MMTS services between Secunderabad and Falaknuma cancelled by the SCR. While the bandh was peaceful in the city 16 RTC buses were damaged mostly in city outskrits and in Warangal and Karimnagar. Also, malls offering jaw-dropping discounts were disappointed with the Saturday turnout. We have been open since morning but the footfall is less by 200 numbers , said the manager of a mall, saying that people assume that things would remain shut on a bandh day.
T Cong camp a divided house

Hyderabad: Serious differences erupted among Telangana Congress legislators on Saturday with four MLAs announcing their resignations, while the remaining saying they would boycott the assembly session scheduled to start from Monday. Legislators who announced their resignations on Saturday include R Damodar Reddy (Suryapet), Cheruku Mutyam Reddy (Dubbaka), Bikshamiah Goud (Aler) and P Narsa Reddy (Gajwel) and MLCs Mohan Reddy and Rajalingam. These leaders rushed to the political JAC meeting saying they stood by their commitment to the people of Telangana. Though a battery of Telangana Congress leaders, including four MPs, 13 MLAs and seven MLCs were involved in the four-hour debate that was marked by frequent outbursts of emotions, it largely remained inconclusive with a host of opinions being put forth by the respective leaders.

Though Damodar Reddy, Mutyam Reddy, Basavaraj Saraiah and Narsa Reddy were firm on quitting even before the meeting, former home minister K Jana Reddy prevailed upon them to take a decision after the meeting. The Congress leaders took strong objection to the Centre linking the Telangana issue with the demand for a united Andhra Pradesh. They, however , were unanimous in their view that the time limit for the Srikrishna committee had to be reduced to six months. They said they would write a letter to Sonia Gandhi on the issue.

Meanwhile, ministers from Telangana were reconciled to the fact that the Krishna committee would do justice to the people and refrained from making any announcement on quitting their posts. In fact, some of them called on Speaker N Kiran Kumar Reddy on Saturday to discuss official matters pertaining to the budget session. At the end of the day, only four of the 50 Congress legislators from Telangana confirmed their resignation, while others wanted to adopt a middle path to appease both the high command as well as the people of Telangana by boycotting the assembly session.
T leaders to quit from Sunday

Upset over the terms of reference for the Srikrishna panel, all political parties under the JAC unanimously resolved on Saturday to quit legislative posts and mount pressure on the Centre to start the process of T state formation. JAC convenor M Kodandaram said the process of submitting resignations to Speaker N Kiran Kumar Reddy would start from Sunday. The meeting had its dose of suspense with the Congress making the JAC wait for more than three hours before taking a decision on the resignations. Party MLA R Damodar Reddy walked in with three of his colleagues ending speculation that the party ditched the JAC. Other JAC partners TRS, BJP and PRP already announced that their MLAs would resign soon after the JAC meeting. TNN

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