In a new twist to the ongoing strike by employees of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC), police in Hyderabad on Friday booked their leader on a complaint by a driver.
Joint Action Committee (JAC) convenor Ashwathama Reddy was booked on charges of wrongful restraint and criminal intimidation.
The case was registered at Kukatpally police station on a complaint by driver K. Raju, who alleged that Reddy was instigating employees and was responsible for deaths of few employees. The complainant said that the demand to merge the TSRTC with the government was Reddy’s own demand and not that of employees.
The development came on 21st day of the strike by more than 48,000 employees of the state-owned transport utility over various demands including the merger of the TSRTC with the government so that they are treated at par with the government employees.
The case was booked hours after Ashwathama Reddy alleged that Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao was trying to divide the striking employees to foil their protest.
The Chief Minister had said on Thursday that the TSRTC is on the verge of closure due to the strike and blamed its union leaders for this situation. He alleged that the union leaders were playing with the lives of the workers.
Rao also firmly ruled out the TSRTC’s merger, saying it can never happen. Stating that neither the TSRTC nor the government has money to pay the September salary to the employees, he remarked that nobody can save the corporation.
The Chief Minister had already declared that 48,000 workers ceased to be employees of the TSRTC as they did not join the duty before the expiry of the deadline.
The strike has seen suicide of two employees while some other died of cardiac arrest, allegedly due to depression over losing the job and not receiving salaries.
Meanwhile, Ashwathama Reddy and other JAC leaders held a meeting with the BJP’s state president K. Laxman on Friday. The BJP leader said that the party has brought the issue of the strike to the Centre’s notice.
Laxman alleged that Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leaders had set their eyes on the assets of the TSRTC and that was the reason they were talking of shutting it down. He assured all support to the striking employees and urged them not to be cowed down by the threats.