In 1969 Telangana Agitation, more than 370 people were killed; more than 50,000 people were arrested; thousands were injured. In 1971, Telangana Praja Samiti (TPS) won 11 out of 14 Lok Sabha seats, and yet Telangana state was not formed. And in the last 40 years, people of Telangana have endured the shame and ignominy, but did not lose hope. They continued to harbor a hope that one day we will get our Telangana, what is now called ‘Telangana Sentiment’.
In 2000, when three new states of Chattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand were created, Telangana was on the top of the list. And yet, Telangana was put on hold only because Chandrababu Naidu, the then CM of Andhra Pradesh, who had lent his support to NDA, did not support statehood to Telangana.
In 2001, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), a new political party was formed with a single point manifesto, to bring statehood to Telangana. It formed an alliance with Y S Rajashekar’s (YSR) Congress, which shared the agenda of TRS. In the elections of 2004, Congress won in AP with help of TRS but went back on its promises. Once again people of Telangana lost out to the devious and quirky Indian politics.
In the subsequent five years, TRS could not achieve its single-point agenda though they tried every tactic. People of Telangana were not interested in hearing excuses and therefore were disappointed with TRS. In 2009, every other political party in Andhra Pradesh- Congress, TDP, Praja Rajyam, etc, also promised Telangana. It became clear that the issue of Telangana is no longer in the agenda of one party but all parties. Naturally, the vote of Telangana people got divided. The detractors of Telangana explained the drubbing of TRS as waning of Telangana Movement, whereas the people of Telangana felt it was only the intensification of its movement because now all political parties endorsed it.
In November 2009, K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) went on a hunger strike to move the center to look at the Telangana issue. The people of Telangana rallied behind him. On 9th December 2009, when P Chidambaram announced the decision to take steps towards creation of Telangana, the people of Telangana rejoiced.
However, the majority Andhra politicians played the old game of adjourning the Assembly through mass resignations. On 23rd December 2009, when P Chidambaram retracted his earlier announcement calling for wider consultation and consensus, Telangana people were once again disappointed.
Immediately, most of the political leaders of Telangana submitted their resignations to express their solidarity, clearly indicating to the world that the sentiment of Telangana is endorsed by all. However, the world looked at it only as a political gimmick of few politicians with vested interest. They said that Telangana sentiment is not shared by the people of Telangana. One Andhra leader quoted that 82% of Telangana people DO NOT support Telangana. In absence of any statistic or a quantifiable measure of this sentiment, every detractor is now able to decry our sentiment and pooh-pooh our movement.
On 3rd January 2010, students of Telangana organized a massive Vidyarthi Gharjana [Roar of Students] in Osmania University where anywhere between 1 to 2 Lakh students showed up. It was a grand event and peaceful one. Just because few leaders that had links with Naxalites showed up at the event, the whole movement of Telangana people is now characterized as Naxal movement.
In the last twenty days, people of Telangana have been celebrating, protesting, and organizing pada yatras, conducting Dhoom-Dhams and Disha-Dasha across all towns and villages of Telangana to express their Telangana Movement. And yet, the world wants to conveniently believe that this movement is now in the ‘cold storage’, that it has lost momentum. Some of them have even said that it is clear that Telangana people don’t want Telangana anymore.
All our attempts to let the world know of our immense support have failed. Elections results were interpreted wrongly, our student movement was characterized as extremist movement, the hunger strikes and fasts of our leaders and students were called gimmicks and stunts.
The detractors have done everything to discredit our movement by attacking our leaders, calling our youth as illiterate, and describing our sentiment foolish. Every rally and protest is undermined as voice of a small section. It has become extremely difficult for people of Telangana to express their solidarity with this movement. We want to tell the whole world that whole of Telangana overwhelmingly supports the cause of Telangana and yet we are unable to do it.
Why form longest and largest Human Chain?
The democratic institutions have failed us on all counts. We are not able to depend on India’s Parliament that is held at ransom by coalition politics or our state assembly that is hijacked by leaders of majority region. Even our courts couldn’t help us because their decisions were overturned with clout of power.
In absence of referendums in India, we the people of Telangana have come up with our own referendum. We have decided to form the longest and largest human chain (maanava haaramu) to tell the world that the whole of Telangana stands united, joining hands, and chanting Jai Telangana, to express our unanimous approval for Telangana cause.
No more shall you cast doubts on our support. No more shall you interpret our election results wrongly. No more shall you call this movement a voice of small section. We want you to understand that it not extremist-led or political party-led movement. We want you to understand that it is a genuine people’s movement unlike any other in the contemporary history of our planet. The leaders of this movement are the people of Telangana and no one else.
We need everyone out there to participate.
I urge all the people of Telangana to come out and be part of this event. Spread the message to everyone. Become the ambassadors and messengers of Telangana cause, go to villages, to towns, to cities, and tell them why we need to participate in this chain. Tell the schools, colleges and universities to bring out their kids, tell administrative offices, the courts, the banks, the government offices, and the industries, to come and join this chain. Tell your grandparents, your parents, your siblings, your cousins and relatives, and your friends to come out and be part of this chain. Spread the word across entire Telangana.
Let it be the expression of every Telangana person. Let the chants of Jai Telangana be heard in the entire country, let the chain be seen from the Moon, let the whole world watch it on their TV, not because it is a world record, but because it is the greatest show of strength of people who are looking for freedom and expression within the legal confines of Indian Constitution, through peaceful, non-violent method.