The rail roko programe at various places in the city became a conglomeration of various facets of the Telangana culture. With music, dance, plays and a sumptuous Telangana lunch, Manoharabad railway station, one of the hotspots, wore the look of a weekly fair.
Big groups, small groups, students’ groups, teachers’ groups, women’s groups and childrens’ groups all who vowed for a 48 hour rail roko, marched into the station. Some brought the Telangana Rashtra Samithi banner, few others held the BJP flag and the rest displayed their own banners, all united for the cause of a separate Telangana state.
Among them was eighty year old Savitri who came along with her daughter in law. She did not have an idea about what she was doing there but was more than happy to accompany her daughter in law. Chintu, a class III student knew exactly why he was there all his friends had come and he didn’t want to be left behind. He was thoroughly enjoying his break, he said, adding he knew they wouldn’t let him go hungry at the protest site. He had come to enjoy the day out with his friends.
Among the children was Sandeep, a class IX student, who was more aware of the facts of the Telangana agitation. He brought together all children present there, teaching them slogans hailing Telangana. He has heard several speeches of T leaders and he felt if he wanted a job after he grew up, he had to take part in the agitation. The adults seemed to have taken a backseat in the early part of morning as they prompted their kids to shout slogans. The kids picked it up soon, waving flags given to them and choosing their favourite coloured ones.
A group of men used a part of the platform to play kabaddi. Instead of the word ‘kabaddi’, they chanted ‘Jai Telangana’ while they played. On the tracks sat a large group of women who swore to lay siege to the Secretariat, if their demands were not met. “We will not stop with a 48hour protest. We will go hungry for however long to pressurise the government to give us a separate state. I do not care if I lose my son to the cause,” said an emotional Saraswati from Siddipet, drawing applause and ‘Jai Telangana’ chorus from the women around.
On being asked about the effect the agitations would have on students, Siddipet Private Schools Management Association member Ravi said he was confident the teachers would complete the syllabus before the annual exams in March. “Look at it this way. We protest and if we are able to get a separate state, our students will get better jobs. So this time is an investment, not a waste,” he observed.
As the agitation gathered momentum, cultural programmes began. Singer Deshapati Srinivas sang songs dedicated to Telangana. Elsewhere on the station platform, a group of performers of the ‘Chindu’ artform performed a play depicting victory of the Tregion. Priests performed ‘homam’ praying for the creation of a new state. A group of followers took ‘Bhavani Deeksha’, as part of which they will fast until 6 p.m for 21 days.
TRS leader and MLA Harish Rao who led the protest, S Gopi, BJP district general secretary, K Gonaiah, National Fisheries Federation director, Thotla Swamy Yadav, OUJAC chairman and other leaders repeatedly demanded the TTDP leaders should resign from their posts and actively take part in the agitations. They also expressed displeasure that salaries of government employees on strike was being cut and demanded the state government provide their complete salaries. They emphatically expressed they wouldn’t give up the agitation until a separate state was carved out. “If not a rail roko, we will protest in some other form. But we will not give up,” Harish Rao said.
While activists, artistes and political leaders took part in the agitation, on the farther end of the platform, a festive lunch was being cooked. The cooks who were proud to be part of this wrote Telangana slogans on the cooking pots while the meal cooked. Rice, brinjal curry and dal with drumstick was the lunch menu.
On the railway tracks near Tellapur, another group of protestors gathered, who were addressed by TRS leader Vijayashanti. It was a smaller group with around 500 activists as compared to nearly 3,000 at Manoharabad. As the sun shone brighter, the protests cooled down and people lay down on the tracks for a siesta. Villagers walked in to witness the protests and hung around to be part of the grand affair. Towards the evening, even womenfolk who took a break from the chores, dropped in to the venue. [Express Buzz]