The merger and the movement,1956-2013

The stage for the Telangana movement was laid in November1956,when it was merged with Andhra state to form Andhra Pradesh

Written by Sreenivas Janyala | Hyderabad | Published: July 31, 2013 1:48:32 am

The stage for the Telangana movement was laid in November1956,when it was merged with Andhra state to form Andhra Pradesh. Amid accusations of the government breaking promises of special benefits for the backward region,and of people from the Coastal and Rayalaseema regions exploiting and oppressing those of Telangana,the region witnessed a number of movements. Alongside the one for statehood,there was also a peasants uprising,besides Naxalism.

Just when the movement appeared to be fading,the turn of the century brought a new crop of leaders who revived it. K Chandrasekhara Rao,a former Telugu Desam Party minister,broke away and founded the Telangana Rashtra Samiti to seek statehood. A TRS-led agitation reignited passions and violent protests broke out in Hyderabad and other parts of Telangana. It peaked in November 2009 when Rao,known as KCR,undertook a fast unto death demanding an immediate declaration of statehood.

Telangana had seen its first rebellion from 1946 to 1951,before the merger. That was against feudalism.

In December 1953,the States Reorganisation Commission was appointed to recommend redrawing of boundaries. It opined that Telangana region should not be merged with Andhra state. It proposed that Telangana be a separate state with a provision to unify with Andhra state after the 1961 general elections if the Telangana state assembly passed a resolution. The chief minister of then Hyderabad state,B Ramakrishna Rao,a bureaucrat appointed by the Centre,opined that a majority of Telangana’s people opposed a merger,while he supported the Congress’s decision to carry out the merger without going through the process suggested by the SRC. On February,20,1956,the merger took place with the Andhra assembly passing a resolution to provide adequate safeguards for the region.

After unified Andhra Pradesh came into existence on November 1,1956,the safeguards assured — water allocation,power-sharing,development funds — under what is known as a gentleman’s agreement were quickly forgotten. Agitations took place in 1968,1969,and 1972. In 1968,at least 350 people died in police firing during violent demonstrations.

Then in 2009,when KCR’s health was deteriorating while he was fasting,home minister P Chidambaram made a statement on December 9 that the “process of creation of Telangana state has been set in motion”. The Centre,however,dragged its feet,mainly due to opposition from leaders of the other two regions.

Since then,Telangana has witnessed many violent agitations and protests,with Osmania University as the nerve centre. The movement attained an emotional dimension when frustrated students started committing suicide; it is estimated there have been more than 600 such deaths.

In March 2010,the Centre formed a five-member committee led by Justice B N Srikrishna to look into the demand. It submitted a report that December with six options,all of which were rejected by Telangana leaders who insisted on a state of 10 districts and with Hyderabad as capital.

With the TRS,a regional party,unable to exert enough pressure,the movement changed hands and was taken over by the Telangana Joint Action Committee comprising many pro-Telangana groups,NGOs,unions and student bodies. It gave the movement teeth,organising shutdowns,marches in which lakhs participated,and non-cooperation by Telangana-base employees — one of which lasted nearly two months. For nearly three years,it kept the movement alive and the government on the edge.

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