2012 Telangana protests
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Telangana region marked in white within the state of Andhra Pradesh
The 2012 Telangana protests refers to a chain of protests as part of the Telangana movement, taking place in 2012. The year mainly dealt with two assembly bypolls, one in March and the other in June, with the BJP winning one, and the YSR Congress winning the other. Protests resumed in August when KCR gave a deadline to the centre to declare statehood in 2 weeks. On 19 January 2012, BJP led by State party president Kishan Reddy started the 22-day Telangana 'Poru Yatra', a journey of 3500 km in Telangana, to touch 986 villages and 88 assembly constituencies stressing the need for Telangana stance. Though the tour was successful in reiterating the party's pro-Telangana stance, it could not garner as much support as hoped because of the indifferent attitude of the TRS and TJAC. In fact the failure of the TRS in declaring its support to Kishan Reddy’s yatra has resulted in growing differences between the two parties.
Bye elections took place on 18 March in six Telangana assembly seats. Five seats fell vacant due to quitting of MLAs from Congress & TDP citing the unwillingness of their respective party leadership to take a stand on Telangana issue. The Mahbubnagar seat fell vacant due to the death of a sitting independent MLA. TRS won four out of five seats it contested with huge majorities ranging from 15,024 to 44,465. In two out of the four seats won by TRS (Kamareddy & Adilabad), the TRS candidates polled less number of votes compared to 2009 assembly elections when they contested as candidates from TDP which was in alliance with TRS. Ex-TDP MLA Nagam Janardhan Reddy won from Nagarkurnool seat as an independent with TJAC support. Congress lost deposit in one constituency and TDP in three constituencies.
In Mahbubnagar Assembly constituency which is part of the Parliament constituency represented by KCR, TRS lost to its TJAC partner BJP by a narrow marigin of 1897 votes. Congress was at 3rd place with 12000 votes less than BJP and TDP at 4th place and lost the deposit. In the run-up to the election, TRS didn't yield to BJP's request of letting it contest from the seat and instead fielded a Muslim candidate against the wishes of BJP. During campaigning, KCR exuded confidence that his party candidate had already won and that polls will just be a formality. The BJP candidate was issued a show cause notice for flaring up communal passions in his campaign speech.
Reacting to BJP's victory, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) legislative assembly leader, Akbaruddin Owaisi, said that the result vindicated their stand on Telangana. He reiterated that MIM would now aggressively raise their voice for a United Andhra Pradesh to protect the interests of minorities. After communal clashes in Sangareddy and Hyderabad, Lateef Mohammad Khan, head of the Muslim Forum for Telangana also said that Muslims would prefer that the State remain united rather than a separate Telangana controlled by communal forces.
In the following days after the newly elected MLAs took oath, there were a spate of reports of people committing or attempting suicides allegedly protesting the delay in formation of separate State. Police later found evidence proving possible links between the suicides and victims' personal reasons. The suicides prompted violent protests by T activists. A bandh was called across the region by TRS to mourn the suicides. The bandh had minimal effect on Hyderbad city including areas near Osmania University. In the funeral procession of one of the victims, TRS & BJP cadres carried their party flags which drew criticism from other parties that those parties were politicising the suicides and sending a wrong signal to people that suicides are glorified by their parties.
None of the main parties that were claiming to be fighting for Telangana state produced any accurate data to substantiate their claims on number of suicides. The claims varied from 315 (which is the official record) to 850 people. A senior minister from Telangana region admitted that even if facts were known, they weren't likely to reveal since the issue is delicate.
In April 2012, the Supreme Court severely reprimanded the state government for not responding to its notice regarding its failure to rein in Telangana agitators who had indulged in “sheer goondaism and vandalism” in the AP High Court premises during a stir in September 2010. This was in response to a plea filed by an advocate who alleged that during the agitation irate lawyers entered courtroom, threatened the Judge and indulged in vandalism.
By not filing affidavits, are you supporting the vandalism in the High Court? This is sheer goondaism in the court rooms, throwing chairs, breaking glass and switching off lights. It could have harmed the judges. They even could have killed the judge and the State was watching
Bye-polls were conducted for 18 Assembly seats and 1 Parliament seat on 12 June. These were necessitated after 17 MLAs (including Parkal MLA from Telangana region) & 1 MP were disqualified after they supported the YSR Congress party (YSRCP). Another seat fell vacant due to the resignation of Chiranjeevi after he became a Rajya Sabha member.
In the run up to Parkal bye-poll, TRS campaigned that the YSR Congress & TDP were both anti-Telangana and claimed that both will be routed in the elections. BJP also did an aggressive campaign in Parkal by deploying several of its national leaders and CMs of other states to boost its campaign for carving out the Telangana state. YSRCP campaigned that their candidate had also earlier resigned for the cause of Telangana and they respect the sentiments of Telangana and don't oppose the formation of Telangana. TDP leaders said their party will give a letter to central government supporting Telangana right after elections. Some Congress leaders campaigned in the Seema-Andhra region that if the YSR Congress party won the elections, Telangana state will be formed.
Overall, the YSRCP won 15 assembly seats and the lone Parliament seat in Seema-Andhra region. TRS's candidate managed to win the Parkal seat with a slender majority of 1562 votes over YSRCP candidate Konda Surekha. TDP finished third after polling 30,000 votes and retained its deposit. Both BJP & Congress lost their deposits. TRS leaders who were unhappy with the slender majority blamed it on the split of pro-Telangana votes and also due to the electoral symbols (auto and hat) of some independents which they claimed looked similar to theirs, a car. They also alleged that their rivals spent an unprecedented amount of money, and distributed liquor and cotton seeds. BJP also attributed their defeat to YSRCP & TRS wooing of voters with gold coins, liquor and cotton seeds. Congress observer Vayalar Ravi noted that TRS faring badly in the election raises questions if Telangana sentiment is still prevailing.
Reacting to the results, Telangana Congress MPs said that their party will not exist in Telangana for its anti-Telangana approach TRS leader Vinod Kumar said that all the votes polled in Parkal were cast in favour of the Telangana sentiment and reiterated that the Congress has to realise that it is losing its base in the entire state TDP Telangana Forum convenor Errabelli Dayakar Rao commented that the Parkal result is like a "slap" on TRS and that the people of Telangana have realised how TRS is cheating them.
Campaigns and other protests
On 14 August 2012, KCR gave a deadline to the centre to declare statehood in 2 weeks and promised to launch another round of agitation if the centre doesn't. He later declared that he got feelers that a positive announcement will be made by Eid. In another interview after Eid, he remarked that Sonia Gandhi has always been in favour of Telangana and that the central government will call his party for discussions in "few weeks or so" On 6 September, KCR left for Delhi and announced that the issue will be resolved by end of September. After his 23-day stay in Delhi, KCR returned to Hyderabad with the hoping for a final round of talks with the Congress leadership would be held soon on the issue. He claimed that his discussions with several leaders was fruitful.
His son and Sircilla legislator KT Rama Rao also said that Telangana will become a reality before the 2014 general election. Reacting to this, TRS leader and KCR's nephew T Harish Rao announced that the party was ready to merge into congress upon the grant of a separate state. He also demanded that the merger would only be advantageous to the congress party. He threatened congress leaders about an action plan that the TRS would go ahead with, otherwise.
On 1 September, The Hindu reported that the BJP and people of Telangana want the issue to be resolved as soon as possible as the delays and the long-lasting protests have been causing immense losses to the region, development-wise. Later that day, the BJP announced that they would start campaigning for Telangana from 3 September. BJP State Unit President Kishan Reddy announced that he would lead a three-day hunger strike at Delhi's Jantar Mantar in support of the demand.
In September 2012, Sushilkumar Shinde, the newly appointed home minister of India commented that the Telangana demand needs to be handled carefully since similarly carved smaller states saw increased Naxal problems. Addressing a public meeting in Nizamabad district, AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi said that formation of a separate Telangana state is not possible and reaffirmed his party's stand on the issue. He also said that Muslims would not accept a separate state.
Telangana activists desecrated the statue of former Chief Minister Kasu Brahmananda Reddy outside the Kasu Brahmananda Reddy National Park. A home guard & a constable was roughed up by the mob and pamphlets of Telangana United Front (TUF) were found at the site. TUF leader Vimalakka was arrested under sections 147, 148, 149, 332, 335, 425 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and other sections of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property (PDPP) Act after she confessed her involvement in the desecration. She was later released on bail.
After setting 30 September as the deadline for the Centre to announce the formation of Telangana, the TJAC threatened to organise a 'Telangana March' in Hyderabad on the lines of the 'Dandi March' . Anticipating violence and possibility of attack on properties of Andhraites, Police initially refused permission to the march which is scheduled around the time of Ganesh Nimmajjan on 29 September and UN conference on Bio diversity on 1 October. The Police begun checking buses and trains entering the city and students who are trying to enter the city to participate in the protest are being sent back. They identified troublemakers and arrested certain pro-Telangana activists throughout the Telangana region. Police said that there are intelligence reports that the protestors could attack properties of people of Seemandhra. Congress MP Madhu Yaskhi Goud warned that people supporting United Andhra should not live in the Telangana region and wanted protestors to attack the properties of Seemandhra MPs during the march. He was later gheraoed by pro-Telangana activists in his own Lok Sabha constituency of Nizamabad who described him as "Telangana Betrayer" and demanded his resignation to show his commitment on the issue.
All pro-Telangana parties pledged their support to the march. Certain eminent citizens of Telangana wrote a letter to the President of India asking for permission for march and expressed their concern that forceful preventive detentions of leaders will lead to more counter violence from the protestors.
On 28 September, after long discussions between JAC leaders and ministers from Telangana region, the state government ignoring warnings about possible breakdown of law & order, gave permission to the March. The JAC leaders gave written assurance to the government that the agitation programme will be conducted in a peaceful and "gandhian" manner from 3 pm to 7 pm on 30 September on the Necklace road on the edge of Hussain Sager lake. Indian Railways cancelled several express & passenger trains and all local and sub-urban train services in Hyderabad reportedly on the advice of Police. Amidst allegations from JAC leaders of having arrested a lot of Telangana supporters and preventing their movement towards Necklace road, Police claimed that they did not make any fresh arrests and that all those arrested prior to the permission were released. They allowed entry to the venue through 3 designated routes while pro-Telangana groups demanded access through all routes. The Police also said that there was no permission for any other rallies in the city.
Day of the march
On 30 September, the day of the march, Police closed the gates and blocked students at the Osmania University gate and other protestors at several places in the city when they were proceeding in rallies towards the March venue. When they were stopped from breaking through barricades and trying to proceed through prohibited areas such as Raj Bhavan, the protestors threw stones at the Police. Police responded with lathicharge, water cannons and tear gas shells. Congress MPs from Telangana were arrested in front of Chief minister's office when they staged a dharna as they were not allowed to meet him over the detention of their party supporters who were stopped from reaching the venue.
Though Police sealed all the entry points to the Necklace Road and opened only the Buddha Bhavan route, by 4 pm around 2 lakh protestors including various party leaders and their supporters reached the venue from all routes. Coming under attack from both sides, the police ceded the entire Necklace Road to the protesters who marched on till Jal Vihar. According to the Police, the protesters torched two police vehicles at People's Plaza on the Necklace Road. The mobs also set afire three police vehicles, a couple of media outdoor broadcasting vans, machinery and a temporary cabin room of a construction company. The protesters made an attempt to set on fire a local train at Khairatabad station. At the railway’s Hussainsagar junction cabin, around 1,000 Telangana supporters went on a rampage overpowering over 100 uniformed men stationed in the area and burnt down the cabin after manhandling railway staff. The entire signalling system was damaged and officials pegged the loss at around Rs. 60 lakh.
All Telugu news channels covering the March were blocked by police for some time. The move was apparently aimed at preventing the spread of violence to other parts of the city.
In his address to the crowds, M. Kodandaram said that peaceful and disciplined soldiers were fighting for the Telangana statehood. He said that they did not want to indulge in any kind of violence, in spite of hurdles being put up by the police to prevent people attending the March. He also alleged that some conspirators from other regions of the state had already infiltrated and trying to create violence and throw the blame on the protestors. He appealed not to destroy public properties, attack or manhandle media-persons.
After 7 pm, TJAC leaders violated the deadline and refused to leave the venue till the government issues a statement on Telangana. Police first used water cannons and later lobbed tear gas shells on the crowd and on to the stage to force the protestors to leave the venue. Finally at midnight the JAC called off the March citing heavy rain and injured supporters. Seeing a helicopter circle over the venue for few times, some protestors speculated that the government used cloud seeding to cause heavy rains. The TJAC declared a bandh for the next two days and vowed to launch a hunger strike across the region. They also announced that the agitation would take a serious turn, if the police continued to use repression to stop them. Kodandaram demanded the resignation of ministers from the region and force them to pressurise the Central government to grant the separate state. Police officials claimed that the obstacles put by them made it possible to reduce number of protestors which otherwise would have been running up to many lakhs.
The next day, Local police registered 15 cases against Kodandaram and others for conducting the march beyond the permitted time of 7 pm and till midnight and also for violence during the march. Railway police also registered cases against unidentified persons for damage to the signalling system at Lakdikapul. The cases have been booked for unlawful assembly, rioting, arson, mischief with fire and criminal conspiracy. In some cases, Sections dealing with attempt to murder have been included as several policemen, including an IPS official, were injured. Cases were booked against the student leaders of TSJAC, OUJAC, Telangana Vidyarti Parishad and TVV. The bandh drew little response in Hyderabad and was partial in Telangana districts. Osmania University students again resorted to stone throwing and police retaliated by using tear gas shells.
TJAC convenor Swamy Goud claimed that they failed to lead the rally effectively and that they could have been more assertive to regulate mischievous elements. They claimed that this experience has shown the need to have a stronger leadership, and appealed to KCR to lead from the front. He later joined the TRS and KCR announced him as their party MLC candidate for the forthcoming elections in the region.
All Party meeting in December 2012
On 28 December 2012 a meeting was organized by Sushilkumar Shinde, home minister of India, to discuss the Telangana issue. It was attended by 8 political parties having significant presence in the state legislature. After hearing views of all the parties, the home minister said that this will be the last such meeting on this issue and that the government will come up with a decision within 30 days. In the meeting, MIM & CPI(M) reiterated their strong opposition to division of the state. YSR Congress remained neutral and requested the central government to take a decision. Congress representatives gave conflicting views, one supporting the division & one opposing it. TDP representatives gave a letter signed by its president which said that it never withdrawn its letter to Pranab Mukharjee in 2008 supporting Telangana state formation. Telangana JAC demanded more clarity from Telugu Desam before they allow TDP to be a member of JAC.
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Late 2011 Telangana protests