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Students seize drive for state – Bristling Osmania campus turns Telangana rallying point

Posted by Admin on December 25, 2009

Students seize drive for state
– Bristling Osmania campus turns Telangana rallying point
25reddy.jpgG.S. RADHAKRISHNA
Desam MLA Janardhan Reddy being beaten up by students at Osmania University. (PTI)

Hyderabad, Dec. 24: Osmania University, the bedrock of the movement for a state of Telangana, became the rallying point for the agitation today with students unleashing their anger on politicians, accusing them of hijacking the issue without any real commitment to the cause.

Police swooped down on the university hostels and took into custody Rama Rao, one of the spearheads of the Joint Action Committee on Telangana which comprises leaders of mainstream political parties and the students. A search is on for other student members.

Confined to the campus because police wouldn’t allow them to enforce the bandh called by the committee today, the students vent their ire on the Telugu Desam, whom they accused of sitting on the fence and not taking a clear stand.

A group of Desam legislators visited the campus to show solidarity with the students. But the students said they would have been happier had the MLAs attended the action committee meeting called by statehood spearhead K. Chandrasekhar Rao.

“Desam members should first come out of Chandrababu Naidu’s fold and extend support to the JAC,” said Bhaskar, a member of the students’ action committee.

The Desam was initially against a separate state but later changed tack for electoral gains. During the current agitation, the Desam had agreed to support a resolution on Telangana but its MLAs later decided to oppose statehood.

As many as 82 of the 119 MLAs from Telangana resigned today after the Centre’s statement yesterday that there was a need for wide-ranging consultations before statehood could be decided upon. Of the 82 who sent in their resignations to the Speaker, 39 are from the Desam.

The students said they would not like the movement to be hijacked again as had happened in 1969 when the Telangana Praja Samiti of M. Channa Reddy, which led the agitation, merged with the Congress, putting statehood in the freezer.

“The students are more serious now than ever before as they have lost confidence in the police and politicians,” said Durga Bhavani, a second-year student of life science.

The simmering tension within the campus erupted when the enraged students rained blows with slippers on Nagam Janardhan Reddy, Desam legislator and deputy leader in the Assembly, who also received fist thumps on his bald pate.

Other Desam legislators were chased and heckled. At least seven vehicles were damaged.

A posse of 1,500 policemen, mounted police and Rapid Action Force personnel was stationed around the campus to prevent the students from hitting the streets to enforce the Telangana bandh.

“In the light of what they did last time (attack shopping malls at Ameerpet), we ensured that the students remained within the campus,” said a police spokesperson.

The 2,000 and odd students tried to break out several times. Twice during the day, the police had to lathi-charge them, burst teargas shells and fire rubber bullets to quell their attempts to break through the cordon. As additional measures, the police put up barbed wires and blocked the gates with a fleet of police vehicles so that the students would not be able to crash out on their two-wheelers.

The sprawling 1,000-acre campus of the university has been the epicentre of political struggles in the last five decades. The lawn of the majestic arts college building was the hub of the Telangana agitation of 1969 in which over 375 students were killed in police firing.

The current agitation began on November 29 when Chandrasekhar Rao, the chief of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, was arrested on his way to Siddipet to stage his hunger strike. “The Congress and the UPA government acted in an undemocratic manner and arrested him,” said Venkatesh Gowd, a member of the JAC.

Student leaders said the Congress and the Telugu Desam had been opposed to the agitation. “We are not very happy with the TRS, but at least they share the agenda of Telangana state with us,” said Kasturi Yohan, an alumnus of the university.

The police and the administration have been advising the students to stay away from politics, addressing them and their parents via SMS and email.

“The students should realise the damage such agitations do to their career. It is possible that countries like the US and China will deny them visas if they have a record of protests and arrests,” said a senior police official. TT

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