HYDERABAD: The year 2019 was a mixed one for the people of Telangana and its ruling party Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).The State witnessed several painful incidents which shook not only the conscience of the State but the entire nation.
The TRS, which ended 2018 on a high note by retaining power with a landslide majority, suffered a few setbacks in 2019. Chief Minister and TRS President K. Chandrashekhar Rao faced some tough challenges, but finally managed to overcome them.
The results of the Lok Sabha elections came as the biggest disappointment for Rao, who had mooted the idea of a Federal Front as an alternative to both the BJP and the Congress, and was eyeing a key role at the Centre. BJP, with its record majority in the Lok Sabha, not only dashed all hopes of Rao, popularly known as KCR, but shocked the TRS by winning four seats in the state while the Congress also won three seats. TRS was expecting a clean sweep (16 seats for itself and one for its ally AIMIM).
KCR also suffered a personal setback as his daughter K. Kavitha lost to BJP's D. Aravind from the Nizamabad Lok Sabha constituency. However, barring the Lok Sabha polls, the TRS maintained its domination as it swept polls in village, 'mandal' and district level local bodies besides wresting an Assembly seat from the Congress.
KCR, who took over as Chief Minister for the second term in December 2018, expanded the two-member cabinet in February by inducting 10 ministers. However, it was only in September that KCR brought back his son K. T. Rama Rao and nephew T. Harish Rao into the cabinet. For the first time since the creation of Telangana state, KCR gave representation to women in the cabinet by inducting two female ministers.
KCR virtually decimated the opposition as 12 out of 19 MLAs of the Congress defected to the TRS and merged with the ruling party. This resulted in Congress losing the status of main opposition in the 119-member Telangana Assembly. TRS' tally crossed 100 as three other MLAs also joined the party. TRS also wrested Huzurnagar from the Congress in the by-election held in October. The ruling party won the by-election with a huge majority of 43,358 votes. The bypoll was necessitated by the resignation of state Congress chief Uttam Kumar Reddy following his election to the Lok Sabha.
Jayaram Chigurupati Case
The murder case of Florida-based NRI, Jayaram Chigurupati who was found dead in his car on Highway No 65 near Aitavaram village, near Nandigama Mandal, in Krishna district in February was something like a strory taken straight from a movie with the case taking several twists and turns . The deceased was found lying in a pool of blood in the back seat of a car following what could be seen as a head injury, clearly pointing to a murder. Liquor bottles and his shoes were also found along with the body. The Andhra Pradesh police claimed to have cracked the case and identified Rakesh Reddy, a financier and realtor as the main accused.But with the intervention of the businessman's wife the case was shifted to Telangana state as per jurisdictional issues as the crime was committed in Hyderabad.
According to the police, Jayaram was honey-trapped, coerced and beaten and he died to due to injuries. They said the accused Rakesh Reddy allegedly got a lady to invite Jayaram to a house in the posh Jubilee Hills on January 30. Once in the house, Reddy with a couple associates tried to persuade Jayaram to pay his dues through cash, etc. To cover up the murder, the group drove the body to Nandigama highway on January 31 and tried make the death look like an accident, however, their plan failed.
Earlier in June, KCR dedicated Kaleshwaram to the nation, which is billed as the world's largest multi-stage, multi-purpose lift irrigation project. Built across the Godavari river, the project will lift water to a height of half a kilometre. It is designed to irrigate 45 lakh acres for two crops in a year, meet the drinking water requirements of 70 per cent of the state and also cater to the needs of the industry. The inauguration of this project, built at a cost of over Rs 80,000 crore, was a major step by India's youngest state towards achieving the goal of 'Bangaru' Telangana or golden Telangana by irrigating one crore acres of land.
Intermediate students suicide case
The spate of suicides by Intermediate students (11th and 12th standard) in April over goof-ups by authorities posed the first major challenge to the TRS in its second term. As many as 23 students ended their lives due to the bungling by the Board of Intermediate Education in evaluation of answer sheets and processing the results. This triggered a huge public outcry and massive protests by opposition parties and student bodies. KCR later announced free re-verification of answer sheets of all failed students. Following re-verification of answer sheets, 1,137 students, who were earlier declared "failed", cleared the exams.
55- Days TSRTC Strike
The biggest challenge to KCR came in October when nearly 50,000 employees of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) went on strike to press for their demands, including the transport body's merger with the government. Irked over the attitude of the employees, KCR rejected their demands and ordered them to return to duty. When they refused, the Chief Minister declared that they have lost their jobs. The strike received support from all opposition parties and several mass organisations. For the first time in five years, KCR was facing a united opposition. The threat by the TSRTC union leaders to create a political crisis further angered KCR, who refused to bow down and even announced privatisation of half of TSRTC fleet. Five distressed employees committed suicide while about 20 others died of cardiac arrest. Though the employees finally called off their nearly two-month long strike, KCR refused to take them back. After they spent four anxious days, he finally offered them the olive branch and the protesting workers were called back to work with some of their demands being met by the Chief Minister
Errum Manzil Demolition
The TRS government received a jolt in September when the High Court directed it not to demolish Errum Manzil, a heritage structure, for the construction of a new Assembly building. KCR had laid the foundation stone for the new legislature complex to be built at a cost of Rs 100 crore. However, on petitions filed by heritage activists and concerned citizens, the court struck down the decision of the state cabinet to demolish Errum Manzil to build the legislature complex.
During the year, Hyderabad continued to attract new investments with global tech giants expanding their presence in the city. US-based e-commerce giant Amazon opened its largest office building in the world in Hyderabad while Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus also launched its largest R&D centre in the city.
Hajipur Horror and Warangal Rape Cases
Prior to the Disha Case, the state woke up to another gruesome incident when the body of a young girl was found in an abandoned well in Hajipur in May. The minor was apparently raped and thrown into the well by the accused. Days after remains of two minor girls were unearthed, police arrested a 28-year old man named M Srinivasa Reddy who allegedly raped and killed them and another girl and buried the bodies in abandoned irrigation wells in a village in Telangana. Srinivas Reddy, resident of Hajipur village in Yadadri Bhuvanagiri district, a lift mechanic, he had also allegedly killed a woman in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh in 2016 and was arrested a year later along with four others. The incident sent shockwaves in the district and Telangana and locals staged protest demanding that the accused be arrested and sentenced to death. The question of the safety of girls also came to the fore with this incident, which prompted the Telangana government to ply buses in the interior regions of the district.
In another shocking incident a nine-month-old baby girl was killed after man named K Praveen sexually assaulted and killed her. The atrocious incident took place at Tailors’ street in Hanamkonda, Warangal on June 19th. The infant, Shritha was asleep on the terrace of the house along with her parents when Praveen of Madaram village in Parkal Mandal had entered the house, climbed the terrace and abducted the baby. However, the parents and the other family members woke up and when they found the baby missing started looking out for her.
They saw the accused running with the baby in his hand and caught and thrashed him. While the baby was immediately rushed to a private hospital in Hanmakonda, the doctors declared her brought dead.
The incident rocked consciousness of the people of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and spontaneous protests erupted nationwide.The accused was convicted by the Warangal Fast Track court and sentenced to death by hanging, but unfortunately the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
Abdullapurmet Tahsildar Viajay Reddy Murder
In a gruesome incident, which has shocked the entire Telangana, a woman Tahsildar of Abdullapurmet in Rangareddy district was burnt alive in her office chambers in November. The accused, K Suresh, entered the chambers of Tahsildar Vijaya Reddy at 1:30 pm stating that he wanted to discuss some land issue with the official. The accused allegedly attacked the Tahsildar and poured petrol on her and set her ablaze. On hearing screams, her driver Gurunadham and attender tried to break open the door. At that time, the accused opened the door and left the place.The MRO was charred to death, while the accused, driver Gurunatham and attender Chandraiah suffered some burn injuries. The shocked visitors then shifted two severely injured persons in the incident to the nearby hospital for treatment. But unfortinately both of them succumbed within a 10 days after the incident. The police took the accused Suresh into custody and shifted him to a private hospital under police custody. But he also died in the hospital which took the total count of the Abdllapurmet incident to four.Revenue employees staged protests at many places across the state questioning the government about their safety. They also expressed their fears about the land mafia especially when it involved handling cases of large tracts of land within the suburbs of the Hyderabad city.
Veterinary Doctor Disha Rape and Murder Case
The tech hub, however, was rudely jolted by the gruesome gang-rape and murder of a woman veterinarian in November. The incident, which triggered national outrage, threatened to dent Hyderabad's brand image as the police also came under criticism for the manner in which it handled the missing complaint from the victim's family. However, the police gunned down all four accused in the case on December 6 in an alleged exchange of fire. The police received both bouquets and brickbats for its action. While many people hailed the police for ensuring instant justice, rights groups voiced concern over the 'extra-judicial killings' and knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court, which constituted a judicial commission to probe the incident.
The incident led to the Andhra Pradesh Government promulgating a Bill in her name in the Legislative Assembly and passed the Disha bill in December. The Act which mandates disposal of cases of atrocities against women within 21 days and handing out the death penalty in cases of rape and murder. AP Government named the proposed law as 'Andhra Pradesh Disha Act Criminal Law (AP Amendment) Act, 2019 as a tribute to the veterinary doctor who was raped and murdered by four persons at Shamshabad recently in Telangana state.