Chaos is back, and Hyderabad is reeling under the effects.
The latest round of the Telangana agitation began last Sunday as KCR declared he would go on a hunger strike- a bandh was called and his supporters promptly went on a rampage, Osmania University was vandalised. Monday saw the shutdown of normal life, buses were off roads and shops were closed for fear of violence.
Things seemed to go on with relative normalcy Tuesday onwards, but then took a turn for the worse Saturday afternoon as rumours of KCR’s condition began to spread and his supporters grew agitated yet again. Cable operators stopped beaming entertainment channels for a few hours, more buses were tampered with, petrol pumps shut down, shops had their display windows broken. With a two-day strike having been called and a curfew in place today, public life has ground to a halt. Buses are off the roads, a few shops have their shutters hesitantly half-open, all the ATMs are closed, the works- quintessential elements of an Indian bandh. As much inconvenience as possible.
We’re destroying the public transport that we pay for, inflicting more blows on the poor. What will make them see sense, though? Sporadic acts of violence, a chance to smile and wave at the camera, a ‘student agitation’ (accompanied by vandalism) and blocked roads (which will in turn lead to traffic jams)- this is the strike we’re talking about- and things are going nowhere. The political implications of the agitation are being thrashed out in studios, while we, as usual, are left to watch and crib. My mother tells me of a similar, though much more severe, agitation in 1969, when life came to a complete standstill. This was initiated by students as well. Schools were closed for eight months, while some others had their students abandon uniforms so classes could go on as usual.
Today, such a situation would hardly be feasible. In a recuperating economy, to think of shutting down completely and hamper with the functioning of businesses that work globally would be hara-kiri. Prices of commodities are already rising as a result of the strike; the state has suffered enough this year due to the heavy floods and the destruction of the kharif crops. Are they even aware of the trouble they are causing?
Tomorrow is Day 2 of the strike- what will it be like? I don’t even want to guess.