(Photo: REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder)
A demonstrator shouts anti-government slogans during a protest demanding statehood for Telangana in Hyderabad, Sept. 20, 2011.
With the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government failing to solve the Telangana statehood issue before the deadline it announced last month, agitation in the region intensified on Monday. Congress leaders from the region have threatened to quit the party if their demand for a separate state is not fulfilled.
Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde issued a statemtemtent announced after an all-party meeting on Dec 28 that the government would take a decision on Telangana within a month's time. Last week, Congress General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad gave hint that the decision could be delayed. His statement evoked angry reactions from pro-Telangana groups who subsequently threatened to intensify the agitation in the coming days.
Seven Congress MPs have reportedly written a letter to party chief Sonia Gandhi threatening to resign if the Telangana state is not formed soon. Nine other ministers have shown restraint and said that they would set a new deadline for the government to solve the issue. They also added that they are ready to quit if the centre does not pay heed to their demands.
Meanwhile, life in Telangana region has come to a standstill as the 36-hour "Samara Deeksha" was imposed on Monday protesting the centre's delay in announcing a decision on the matter.
As part of their agitation, pro-Telangana groups have also decided to block national and state highways linking Telangana.
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"We have resolved to intensify the agitation, and would like to warn the government that it would face real heat in the coming days. We do not want any relationship with the Seemandhra region, and to ensure that, we are going to block the highways linking to cities like Vijayawada and Kurnool," Telangana-JAC chairman M Kodandaram told The Times of India.
Osmania University students and other pro-Telangana organizations clashed with police on Monday after they tried to hold a protest march from Indira Park to Gun Park. The police resorted to lathi-charge and fired tear gas to control the agitators on the campus.
Many students were arrested earlier in the day as a preventive measure and released later.
"The Centre is oblivious to the sensitivity of the issue. It's quiet even after foreign countries have issued travel advisories to their citizens in view of the tension and unrest in Telangana," TRS supremo K Chandrasekhar Rao told TOI.
Security has been beefed up in the state anticipating trouble over the delay in the decision. The Home Ministry has sent around 5,000 security personnel to avoid any untoward happenings in the state.
Two groups - one that supports a separate Telangana state and the other that wants an undivided Andhra Pradesh - met central leaders including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde last week but failed to get any assurance from them.
The six-member Srikrishna Committee headed by former chief justice B. N. Srikrishna had suggested a few options in a report that was presented to the Ministry of Home Affairs in December, 2010.
But the government is reportedly considering only two options - formation of a separate Telangana state or keep Andhra Pradesh intact by forming the Autonomous Telangana Regional Council, which would look into the social, political and economic developments of the region.
Pro-Telangana supporters are not willing to settle for the council, and the anti-Telangana group is adamant on keeping Andhra Pradesh state undivided.
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