Students’ agitation adds force to Telangana movement

While student politics in Andhra Pradesh is mostly a clangorous caste-based affair, the whole-hearted involvement of students from all sections in the latest upsurge on the demand for a separate Telangana is a new development.

In fact, Telangana students surprised the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS)—which is spearheading the movement since 2001— itself when they rose in unison in support of K Chandrasekhara Rao who announced his fast-unto-death for a separate Telangana, and staged violent protests when he was arrested before he could start the fast.

As KCR's fast entered the eighth day on Sunday, the government is as concerned about his health as it is about the volatile situation the students have created in the 10 districts of Telangana region. And, like in 1969, when students got involved in the movement, the epicenter of the uprising this time is the Osmania University in the state capital.

In fact, it is the students' agitation that has brought the Telangana movement back into the limelight, even if KCR's fast was the trigger.

"Till KCR broke his fast momentarily the pro-Telangana students' protests were in his support. Then things changed drastically and students took the lead which was never seen before," says TRS ideologue Prof K Jaishankar.

"The fact that the government tried to break the unity and momentum of the students by declaring a 15-day holiday for all colleges shows how wary it has suddenly become of the potential of the students' support for Telangana," says Harish Rao, a TRS MLA.

Osmania University campus in-charge of TRS's Vidhyarthi Vibhag (TRSV) Pravin Reddy says that irrespective of whether the students were members of TRSV or not, they have joined the protests. "It has now cut across political and caste barriers and every student who belongs to Telangana is involved in it," says Reddy. At the OU, hostels have turned into beehives of angry students chalking out plans to hold rallies and new tactics to dodge police. The OU was forced to shut down its hostels after a joint action committee was formed by students from across the two dozen hostels. Some students have even changed their vehicle registration numbers to TG (Telangana) from AP.

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