Appeal for a Peaceful De-merger of Telangana

[Press Release]

We the undersigned, representing people from several walks of life in Telangana, wish to make the following appeal due to the prevailing situation in the region following the July 30th announcement of the Congress Working Committee and the UPA’s unanimous endorsement for the creation of Telangana with Hyderabad as the common capital for 10 years.

· The people of Telangana have unanimously welcomed this positive development even though it was delayed for nearly four years but the lack of clarity on the issue of a common capital has created certain concerns in Telangana as well in Seema-Andhra.

· This uncertainty is being exploited by all political parties particularly the Andhra Congress leadership, including the Chief Minister who is duty-bound to act impartially, to create fears amongst the people of the Seema-Andhra region. Political leaders in Seema-Andhra including the Congress ministers both at the Center and the State are making false and inflammatory statements in a desperate attempt to stall the creation of Telangana state.

· The print and particularly electronic media owned by Seema-Andhra interest groups with real estate connections are deliberately fomenting animosity and hatred between the people of both regions.

· The announcement that a “Delhi model” was being considered for Hyderabad as the common capital for the stipulated period of 10 years is being used to create confusion about the status of Hyderabad.

The City of Hyderabad is presently administered by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) and comes under the jurisdiction of the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA). These are politically motivated, artificially inflated territorial entities and a gross distortion of the natural growth and evolution of Hyderabad.

The population of Hyderabad increased by 30% over a period of 50 years between 1951 and 2001 whereas it increased by 87% over 6 years between 2001 and 2007 (From 10,85,722 in 1951 to 36,37,483 by 2001, and to approximately 78,00,000 lakhs by 2008 under the HMDA). This highly improbable expansion was made possible only through the annexation of 849 Telangana villages from the 4 neighbouring districts of Mahabubnagar, Medak, Nalgonda and Ranga Reddy.

The jurisdiction of HMDA covers 54 ‘mandals’ (administrative blocks) in 5 districts of Telangana. It includes 16 mandals of Hyderabad, 10 of Medak, 22 of Ranga Reddy, 2 of Mahbubnagar and 4 of Nalgonda districts. It has disenfranchised the 12 municipalities and 8 Gram Panchayats and has disrupted livelihoods and local markets that have been overwhelmed by market forces that are controlled by a real estate mafia and politician nexus that has illegally accumulated wealth using state influence and state resources. We have already witnessed a severe negative impact on rural livelihoods, including handloom, farming, cattle rearing, vegetable and flower production and many other professions. Displacement, of all types, is a very tangible threat for more than 5,00,000 families living in the 849 villages of these 4 Telangana districts.

The Seema-Andhra state needs to have a temporary capital in Hyderabad till such time that a capital is established within that state, but Hyderabad is a city whose history, geography, economy, culture, shared historical experiences and struggles, bind it to Telangana. Irrespective of the terminology that will be used officially, the Common/Temporary Capital Area/Region should be restricted to where the state government offices are located.

Raising the issue of the safety and protection of Seema-Andhra residents in Hyderabad city is not only an insult to the ganga-jamni tehzeeb and the composite/syncretic culture of Telangana state but to the nation as a whole and the Indian Constitution in particular. It is also a demonstration of their insularity and unwillingness to integrate into the fabric of Hyderabad city which indeed is one of the main reasons for the absence of any emotional or cultural integration of the two regions over the past 6 decades.

World history and the history of India tell us that cities have remained as cities while capitals of countries and states have moved from one city to another. In fact from 1956 to 2000, there have been 13 countries around the world that have shifted their capital cities and these include a wide diversity such as Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Libya, Germany and Malaysia.

Telangana state is a reality and any attempt to stop the democratic process is not in the interest of the Seema-Andhra people or of the nation. The leadership and people of Seema-Andhra need to accept this historical fact and reconcile themselves to the reality.

The people of Seema-Andhra and their leaders need to work within the constitutional framework to make their demands on the Govt of India especially in the matter of forming new states.

The de-merger of Telangana is neither a victory nor defeat of any particular region. Deepening the democratic process in our country requires decentralisation through the creation of new states and districts within the states as a progressive process. Countries which have decentralised have progressed well not only in economic terms but also in terms of reaping a democratic dividend. India is no different from that experience.

Creating new states is explicitly mentioned in the Indian constitution and that process will go on as more and more regional identities emerge and assert themselves. As long as they are done within the constitutional framework, the country will be united and prosper. No country can claim to be united by oppressing the democratic demands of a large section of its people.

Therefore in the larger interest of maintaining peace and harmony we appeal to all the people of Telangana and Seema-Andhra to be calm and respectful towards each other. There are no problems that are beyond the reach of an amicable solution as long as the Indian constitution is followed in letter and spirit. We are all Indians, we belong to one citizenry and we have common interests. With that spirit we can attempt to resolve our differences and move forward. That is the only way forward.

1) Syed Azeez Pasha, Ex-MP, Rajya Sabha
2) Chukka Ramaiah, MLC & educationist
3) Burgula Narsing Rao, Freedom Fighter
4) Velichala Kondal Rao, Freedom Fighter
5) Dr. Shyam Sunder Prasad, Opthalmologist
6) Dr. A. Gopal Kishen, Director, Mediciti Hospitals & Convenor, Telangana Coordination Committee
7) Nawab Mahabub Alam Khan, Fmr Chairman, AP Minorities Commission
8) M. Veda Kumar, Forum for a Better Hyderabad
9) Zaheeruddin Ali Khan, Managing Editor, The Siasat Daily
10) D.P. Reddy, President, TDF-India
11) Dr. Gautam Pingle, Frmr Dean, Administrative Staff College of India
12) Maulana Hameed Mohammed Khan, Movement for Peace and Justice
13) Prof. Rama Melkote, Osmania University (retd), AP State Advisor to the Supreme Court Commissioner on the Right to Food
14) Prof. Sreedhara Swamy, Osmania University (retd), Telangana Senior Citizens’ Association
15) Dr. Chenna Basavaiah, Osmania University
16) Dr. K. Srinivasulu, Osmania University
17) Dr. Harinath Polasa, Osmania University (retd)
18) Dr. Biksham Gujja, Founder Director, Agsri Ltd.
19) Dr. R. V. Ramana Murthy, University of Hyderabad
20) Dr. A Suneetha, Anveshi Research Centre for Women’s Studies

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