Ground Zero: Osmania University Arts College
Osmania University symbolizes history of this region. It was the only university of this region before Independence built during Nizam regime. And today, the Arts College fountains and lawns with the historic façade of the building in the background become the Ground Zero for Telangana Movement. From here, the student body of all Telangana universities and colleges control and spearhead the movement. Every politician worth his salt has to prove himself on this hallowed ground. The elected leaders come here to get their fame and legitimacy. They need to be endorsed in this place so that they can be part of Telangana Movement. If they are rejected, like the way the students kicked a TDP MLA, Nagam Janardhana Reddy, then they are booed by the rest of Telangana.
Anyone who visits this place cannot help but feel charged. The atmosphere is electric. You visit this ground, see the students talking and educating the others on the plight of Telangana, hear them singing the ballads which is one of the hallmarks of Telangana culture, you cannot have any more doubts about formation of Telangana. It is bound to happen, and it is palpable here- the passion, the ardor, the optimism is in the air. Their fight will not go in vain.
Of course, it looks like a battleground, with shattered glasses, broken furniture on the ground, with Rapid Action Force battalions standing some distance away, with news channels permanently stationed with their vans topped by satellite dishes.
After I met the people who are carrying out this Movement on the battlefield, it is very clear that they don’t need further education on plight of Telangana. In fact, I stand in front of them to hear what they have to say. They give out facts, they have statistics, they have accounts of history on their lips. You don’t have to convince them. They are out there to convince you.
This is undoubtedly a people’s movement. Many people of Telangana, students, even a young boy whom I met in a different context seem to roll out statistics. It almost looks like every Telangana protestor knows what he is fighting for. They don’t talk about KCR or TRS. It is all about water, it is about jobs, it is about injustice, and it is about loss of self-respect, discrimination and marginalization.
Hitec City: IT Protests
Today, I have witnessed the commitment of the IT professionals of Telangana people. This was headed by Telangana IT Forum (TITF). Some of the members have resigned their jobs to dedicate themselves to this cause 100% of their time. The agitation was carried out in front of the Hitec City building in Hyderabad, the symbol of IT industry in this city.
Once the protests started, the media was there within the first few minutes. The agitators explained that they support separation of Telangana and professed their faith in a vibrant IT industry in the new state and dismissed the rumors of industry fleeing the city as mere blackmail. And within few minutes after that, the police arrived and arrested the protestors and herded them into the jeeps
Many policemen are however sympathizers of Telangana Movement. One of them explained that the whole process will take few hours and that there is nothing to worry. He added, ‘why should you worry? You are fighting for a just cause’.
The protestors did not stop chanting ‘Jai Telangana’ and singing the songs even inside the police custody. The media appeared again to interview the protestors inside the police compound. After 2-3 hours of custody during which the formalities were done, including the mug shots, the agitators were let go.
I was hoping that there would be much bigger show of strength. Some of the IT professionals explained that though there was much wider support for the cause not many of them showed up for the protests. Many of them are shy or afraid to admit they support a separate Telangana. They feel they will have to pay the price in IT industry during yearly valuations and increments if they disclose their support. I still believe that that there should no fear or embarrassment to show one’s support for a just cause.
Many towns of Telangana have seen fun-filled protests. Some of them were playing cricket, some played kho-kho and kabaddi. Even women were playing these games. They were doing this on the streets and roads with loud cheering from everyone around them. Protestors occasionally launched into Telangana ballads and songs. I am happy to see this picnicking on the streets.