Hyderabad: Suicide of two employees of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) and attempted suicide by two others have given a serious turn to the bus strike, which entered the 10th day on Monday.
Thousands of striking employees intensified their stir with emotions running high the following suicide by a driver and a conductor on Sunday.
A shutdown was being observed on Monday in undivided Khammam district over the self-immolation by driver B. Srinivas Reddy.
The 55-year-old driver was drawing a salary of just over Rs 40,000 per month. Reddy, who spent 28 years in TSRTC, was to retire next year.
He is survived by a wife and two sons who serve in the Indian Army and Indian Air Force. Reddy's family members said he had no financial problems but he felt strongly for his colleagues who were all dismissed by the government for going on strike. Reddy who set himself ablaze on Saturday died at a hospital in Hyderabad early on Sunday. Hours later a conductor ended his life in Hyderabad.
P. Surender Goud hanged himself at his house. The 46-year-old conductor was drawing around Rs 25,000 per month. He was depressed after a cheque issued by him towards EMI for the home loan had bounced due to an insufficient amount in his bank account.
Like all other striking employees, Goud had not received his salary for the month of September. He is survived by wife and two children. Shops, business establishments and educational institutions remained closed in undivided Khammam district on a shutdown call by Joint Action Committee (JAC) of employee unions.
Opposition Congress, BJP, TDP, CPI, CPI-M, TJS and other groups and student bodies have declared support to the shutdown call. The JAC termed the suicides as murders by the government. Both the employees were depressed over losing jobs as Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao refused to take back 48,000 employees into TSRTC as they had not joined the duty before the expiry of the government deadline.
Calling the strike illegal, Rao has rejected all the demands of the employees and ruled out any talks with them. The Chief Minister had even asked TSRTC officials to recruit drivers, conductors, and other employees on a temporary basis.
He asked them to restore total normalcy in bus operations by October 21. As the JAC decided to intensify the strike by taking up series of protests this week, including a state-wide shutdown on October 19, the government has extended Dasara holidays for schools and colleges.
The educational institutions, which were to re-open on Monday following 15-day-long holidays, will now remain closed till October 19.
TSRTC management claims to be operating over 5,000 buses daily with the help of temporary drivers. The state-owned utility owns 10,500 buses, which carry more than a crore people every day in Hyderabad and 32 other districts. (IANS)