A day after TRS leader K Chandrasekhara Rao said state government employees from Seemandhra working in Telangana should go back to their respective regions, an ugly verbal clash erupted between non-gazetted officers on either side of the yet to be divided state.
The venue of Saturday’s spat was Bhima Bhavan, an office complex in the heart of Hyderabad.
Although the clash was no more than some aggressive jostling and verbal exchanges, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief’s remarks could aggravate tension between people belonging to Telangana and Seemandhra, as Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra are referred to together.
Though Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra have seen uninterrupted protests in favour of united Andhra Pradesh in the last four days, the separation heat touched the state capital for the first time.
Hyderabad, located geographically in Telangana, is home to a large number of people with roots in Seemandhra.
The police intervened to prevent escalation of tension. Seemandhra employees alleged Telangana staffers had told them to leave the space where they assembled to protest.
A woman employee said, “Today they are telling us to leave the building, tomorrow the state. Where will this end?”
On July 30, the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance at the Centre gave its nod to carving out a separate Telangana state — India’s 29th — from Andhra Pradesh.
There are more than 25,000 Seemandhra employees in Hyderabad.
While the Congress, the Telugu Desam Party and employee organisations warned Rao (popularly referred to as KCR) against making employees insecure, the TRS said his statement on Friday was nothing new.
TRS leaders said KCR was only referring to Government Order 610 (GO 610).
The GO 610, issued in 1985, was to correct a situation where thousands of jobs in Telangana region were held by Andhra people. Some estimates put this at close to 50,000 — most of them in police and school education.
Given the unwillingness and procedural hurdles, the GO was never implemented, leading to protests.
Some within the TRS admit to the complications. “We should also recognise the pain of those settled here from decades. Where and how will they go all of a sudden? A committee should be set up to deal with these employees with sensitivity,” KV Ramanachari, former IAS and advisor to the government and presently politburo member, TRS, told HT.
Meanwhile, the Congress establishment from Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra made a resolution against any division of the state.
In a marathon meeting with chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, more than 70 Seemandhra Congress MLAs and MLCs, including 19 ministers from the region, explained to him the serious situation arising out of the decision to bifurcate the state.