Hyderabad should never lose its cosmopolitan nature

A crucial meeting of the Home Minister along with leaders of Andhra Pradesh is slated for today on the Telangana issue. The meeting gains significance in the wake of the vast division that there is in Andhra Pradesh over this issue. However from what can be heard and witnessed it does not appear as though both parties are going to buckle down and will stick to their respective demands.

The Telangana Joint Action Committee will have a crucial role to play from now onwards. It will have to ensure several things- one is to keep the entire tribe united and also ensure come what may, their supporters don’t resort to violence and get branded as mischief mongers in the state.

The Chairman of the Joint Action Committee, Prof. Kodanda Ram is very clear about their stand and says that there is no compromise formula that is available at this point of time. In this interview with rediff.com, he also puts to rest the fears of the people of Andhra and Rayalseema who think they will lose their homes once Telangana is formed.

What was the purpose behind setting up the Telangana Joint Action Committee?
The people of Telangana have been demanding united activity all along. The formation of the Joint Action Committee has only ensured that their dreams have come true and leaders of various political parties have come under one umbrella. People wanted a show of unity and the JAC was set up in order to show that to the people.

Despite the setting up of the Joint Action Committee there does not seem to be any reselution to the problem. Various political parties continue to oppose the demand for a separate state. Could you comment on this please?

The Joint Action Committee does not mean a merger. Each political party has its own identity and will continue to have that. What we at the JAC want to ensure is that all political parties come under one roof or umbrella and resolve the entire issue without getting into any kind of conflict. It is a long process, but we are hopeful it would happen.

What does the JAC plan to do in future?
The Joint Action Committee has a three pronged strategy. First and foremost we have no intention of working at cross purposes. Secondly we want to create an awareness and have a common minimum understanding on basic issues. Finally the JAC also wants to ensure that there is a common minimum programme of action on this issue

What is the opinion of the JAC on the various political parties which are opposing the formation of Telangana?
Only the Telangana Rastriya Samithi and the Bharatiya Janata Party have a clear stand on this issue and that is they are in favour of the formation of Telangana. The Praja Rajyam Party is divided into two on this issue. The main problem that we face is from the Telegu Desam Party and the Congress. These parties are heavily divided and this is what is causing the delay.

There is an important meeting with the Home Minister today. How do you think the equation of the issue would change after this meeting?
The meeting is a make or break one. One thing I can say for sure is that the division within the TDP, Congress and PRP will become sharper after this meeting. These parties have two options before them. Either they will have to convince their leaders to tow the line or they will need to break away permanently. The days to come will eventually result in the polarization of all political forces.

Is there a slight possibility of a compromise on this issue?
I am afraid there is no question of a compromise. This movement has come way too far and there is no question of going back. However what could be done is that all leaders sit across the table and have a peaceful discussion on this issue and form the state.

Hyderabad is the bone of contention here. What is your view about the same?
Hyderabad will always be with Telangana and the rest of the citizens will enjoy equal status.

There is an issue pertaining to the investors who appear to be scared of investing in Hyderabad if Telangana is formed. What are your thoughts about this?
Telangana will require a lot of investors and industries. There is absolutely no need for the investor to be scared. In no way is the fight of the people of Telangana with the investor. The reason why the investor has his apprehensions is because there are some vested interests who are coming in the way and floating a propaganda. The people of Telangana will always support the investor as long as they don’t come in the way of political demands. We will ensure that the investor will remain in Hyderabad and will take all steps necessary to safeguard their interests.

Will the Mulki rule of the Nizam return once Telangana is formed? ( The Mulki rule mandates that any outsider will have to live 14 years in the state to be eligible for equal rights)
Not possible at all. The Constitution has incorporated all these people and things cannot be contrary to the Indian constitution. At this point of time there is no tension among the people of Andhra and Rayalseema. The tension is being created by some of the leaders. We are in no way opposed to the outsiders. However in federalism we need to ensure that the development of the local people. I would like to point out here that Hyderabad is a cosmopolitan city and under no circumstances can it lose this status. Whatever change may occur, Hyderabad can and should not never lose its cosmopolitan nature since it needs that to sustain itself. If at any point there is an attempt to change that nature, then it will prove disastrous for Hyderabad and there will be terrible tension. All people living in Telangana will and have to be protected at any cost. This is what we will strive for and ensure it happens.

A Muslim could become chief minister of Telagana

Contrary to belief, the Muslim community has come out in support of the movement for the formation of a separate Telangana state. Muslims in the Telangana region feel that all these years they have been treated as outsiders in their own place and believe that once the state is formed, a lot of their problems will be solved.

The community claim that as they are the main sufferers in a united state, the time has come to speak up and be heard collectively. Leading the movement in Hyderabad is Lateef Mohammad Khan, chief of the Muslim Forum For Telangana, who says that they are fed up of being branded as ISI agents and rowdy-sheeters.

In an interview to rediff.com’s Vicky Nanjappa, Khan speaks extensively about the role Muslims want to play and how their lives would change once Telangana is formed.

We thought Muslims were opposed to the formation of Telangana. What happened? Why has that stand changed?
We have not changed our stand. Our stand was always for a separate Telangana. It was just a propaganda being floated by late chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy that the Muslims were opposing Telangana’s formation.

The Majlis-e Ittihad al-Muslimin, which largely represents the Muslims, especially in Hyderabad, does not seem to have taken a stand on the issue. What are your thoughts about the same?

The MIM says they are in favour of the formation of a separate state. However, the Muslims in Hyderabad, at least, have some doubts about them. We have been told by reliable sources that we should not trust the MIM, as they are sitting on the lap of the Congress party which is against the formation of a separate state.

However, the MIM cannot continue this way for long since the movement has gone into the hands of the people and eventually they will have to come around and support our cause.

There is a lot being spoken about the Nizam’s rule. Some say that post-Telangana, the state would prosper as it did under the Nizam. What is the take of Muslims on this issue?

We agree that the Nizam’s rule was feudal in nature. But, the Nizam protected the welfare of the people. He had imposed the ‘Mulki’ rule, under which in matters of education and employment preference would be given to the people of Telangana.

There was another interesting rule, which was in force under the Nizam. People who migrated to and spent 14 years in Hyderabad were given equal rights. After the 1948 police action, Andhra people started migrating to Hyderabad.

The people of Andhra were recruited in military and civil sectors and we, the people of Telangana, were told that we do not know English and Telugu. Some 28,000 Andhraites came here during 1968 and during 1986, 59,000 Andhra and Rayalseema region people illegally occupied jobs.

During the Nizam rule, ‘Mulki’ rules were formed to protect the local people. All the agreements were violated the day after the formation of a United Andhra.

At present, some 3,85,000 Andhra and Rayalseema people are occupying jobs in Telangana region. All these jobs are of Telangana, in which our share is included. Coastal Andhra people overlook the historical Charminar, saying that it will not provide any food, and hi-tech city would provide employment to lakhs of people and benefit of crores of rupees would be gained. We are nowhere today.

We question them to point out a single Muslim in the hi-tech city. Hence, we feel that the ‘Mulki’ rule of the Nizam will be in place once Telangana is formed.

Is that not asking for too much? This is India, after all.

Why didn’t anyone think in the past that we too are Indians? We have been deprived of our legitimate rights and I think that some focus exclusively needs to be given to us so that we are able to rise and prove ourselves.

You say the Nizam’s rule was feudal. How would you compare the rule of the Nizam to the present-day Congress rule?

The Nizam had undertaken a lot of developmental works for the people of Telangana. Whatever he did was for the good of the people. However, the Congress has made the people think that we are lazy and speak a funny language. That is all we have gained. To cut a long story short, the Hindus in Telangana are called jokers and the Muslims terrorists.

How would the lives of Muslims change once Telangana is formed?

Once Telangana is formed, the Muslims will have a big part to play. We form 20 per cent of the population of Telangana. We will get more political representation and a Muslim could become a chief minister or at least a deputy chief minister. Till date, there has not been a single Muslim chief minister in Andhra Pradesh.

What about the real estate mafia? How has that changed the equation in today’s fight for a separate state?

When ‘Hyderabad’ was a State, we were rich in wealth. The State had a lot of lakes and agriculture fields. Leafy vegetables were produced in the fields around Hyderabad. The leaders from Rayalseema and Andhra destroyed several acres of lands belonging to the wakf board.

They also destroyed the lakes and ponds and used it to develop real estate. The people of Coastal Andhra became billionaires and Hyderabadi Muslims were forced to come on the roads.

Telangana lost greatly in the past 50 years. Water was never supplied properly for irrigation and all our resources were always diverted. We are living under the worst conditions.

Muslims have been committing suicide unable to pay loans and innocent girls are being married off to Arab Sheikhs for meagre sums. If at all change has to occur in our lives, we should have an equal share in employment and education and representation in politics — for which a separate Telangana state is the only solution.

The time has come to break our silence and as Hazrat Ali (son-in-law of Prophet Mohammed) had said, “There is no meaning for silence when there is a need to speak for justice.”

Taliban enters India

The Intelligence Bureau, based on intercepts that were picked up from across the border, has sounded off an alert stating that trained militants have slipped into Bihar and Kolkata.
Sources told rediff.com that letters pertaining to the same have been sent to the security agencies concerned and they have been directed to remain on high alert. Based on a tip-off, security has been heightened in these places and especially at vital installations.
The IB says that Taliban fighters have been constantly working on plans to strike at India. Taliban militants were sent to Ilyas Kashmiri of the Al-Qaeda’s 313 brigade for training. Kashmiri, too, had claimed that he was training several fidayeens for a strike in India. He had also reportedly claimed that the strike would be deadlier than the Mumbai attack.

The Joint You Smoke Contributes To Terror

Each time anybody smokes marijuana, he or she contributes towards funding terror organisations.

Intelligence Bureau officials told rediff.com that following the crackdown by security agencies on fake currency racket, terror groups have now taken to marijuana cultivation and exportation to finance their activities.

In 2009 alone, security agencies have seized 1.28 lakh kg of marijuana across the country.

IB sources told rediff.com that the cultivation of Marijuana has increased, as terror groups as well as Naxalites have been using the money generated to fund terror operations.

While Nagaland topped the production of marijuana as always, there has been a rise in cultivation in Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

Terror groups have entered areas infested with the Naxal menace to further their marijuana trade.

IB sources have revealed that members of the local modules of the Students’ Islamic Movement of India and also the Indian Mijahideen have established contacts with Naxals, who act as a cover.

While the cost of cultivation of marijuana is taken care of by the terror groups, Naxals protect the crop and receive a huge sum in return, which is known as protection money.

Sources in the Andhra Pradesh police department said they had noticed the rise in the cultivation of marijuana, and this has been largely restricted to Naxal belts.

Since the flow of funds from across the borders has gone down drastically following heightened security on the borders, terror groups have shifted to marijuana sale.

Earlier, terror groups relied heavily on smuggling drugs to Pakistan and Afghanistan. However, after Indian security agencies made that impossible, terror groups resorted to circulating fake currency in India to fund their attacks.

However, IM sources said, terror groups found it hard to pump in fake notes due to the various measures taken by Indian agencies and hence they have instructed all local modules to adopt marijuana cultivation to fend for themselves.

Terror groups have also roped in local goons to smuggle marijuana across the border.

The fake currency business alone provided the terror groups of almost Rs 1,000 crore annually, IB sources said.

Security agencies said the figure has dropped drastically and could be now between Rs 200 and Rs 300 crore — this would not be sufficient for terror groups, especially at a time when they are now trying to regroup with other modules.

The marijuana seizure in 2009 is enough proof that terror groups and Naxalites have been raising huge sums of money for their operations this way.

Interestingly, the marijuana seizures were made in remote areas of the states that have a huge Naxal presence.

Terror groups have intentionally chosen such areas since the police patrolling is lesser over here and they feel this would be a safe haven for them, said IB sources.

Marijuana cultivated in India is exported at high prices.

Lashkar’s 2010 Plan

In the past few months several countries have been issuing travel advisories against travelling to India. The latest on the list of countries that have issued travel advisories are United States of America, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.

Such advisories are being issued in the wake of several reports by Intelligence Agencies against the rising threat in India from terrorist organizations. Sources in the Intelligence Bureau told rediff.com that the threat perception in India is still very high, but thanks to upgradation of the security system it would be very difficult for terror groups from across the border to carry out a terror strike in India.

In the year 2009, outfits such as the Lashkar have lying low intentionally since there has been a shake up to their infrastructure post Mumbai attacks. The IB says that the year 2010 will be an important year, since terror groups which have been bogged down for so long are desperate to strike.

The main threat that India would face from terrorist groups is a coordinated one by the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the Al-Qaeda. While the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda have changed their strategy against India, the Lashkar militants would largely be involved in the logistic part which would be involved during the attack. IB sources say that the shift I policy towards India comes following the growing ties between India and the US. Moreover the Al-Qaeda and the Taliban feels that India is interfering too much in Afghanistan and only a strike would send across a clear message.

What they plan in 2010? IB sources say that the Taliban has already drawn up plans with the Al-Qaeda to strike Western centres located in Indian cities. The attacks would largely focus on hitting out at foreigners within India apart from causing a great deal of damage to the Indian economy. It has been said several times in the past that the Al-Qaeda’s commander, Ilyas Kashmiri who heads the 313 brigade is training Fidayeens for this task.

Apart from this the Lashkar is also planning a series of attacks on the Indian soil. Intelligence warnings would indicate that this time around the outfit would be looking to hit at targets which would destabilize the country to a large extent. Hydro projects and power grids are something that they are planning to hit.

The Lashkar will also be looking to revive militancy in Punjab in a bid to fulfill their long standing promise towards the Babbar Khalsa. Both these outfits are working together on Pakistan soil and efforts are being made to revive militancy in this region. The two outfits attempted to carry out a strike in Punjab during the previous general elections, but the plans were foiled by Indian security agencies. At present the Babbar Khalsa has already commenced its process to infiltrate terrorists into the Indian soil so that attacks could be carried out.

The arrest of David Headley too reveals a deadly plan by the Lashkar to carry out spectacular attacks on Indian soil. His arrest has made it evident that the Lashkar and the Al-Qaeda were planning big attacks in India and in this regard he along with Tawwahur Rana were asked to survey various targets in India.

Currently there are nearly 44 camps operating in Pakistan which are set up to exclusively to target India. IB sources say that off the 44 camps, 36 are active and are prepared to strike at any given time. The rest of the camps have been placed on stand by mode. The worrying part is that there are 2400 militants who are housed in these camps and are awaiting orders to strike on Indian soil

India’s Response to Terror

People did not usher in the New Year of 2009 with great fanfare since the memories of the horrific Mumbai attack was still very fresh in their minds. The year 2009 was by and large peaceful when compared to 2008 when there were blasts almost every single day in the country. It appears that India had learnt its lesson and the security was tight to a large extent and interestingly the arrests of various local terrorists were made in the right manner thus curbing terror activities to a large extent.

The year 2009 had more strategies and there was a lot of damage control exercise that was undertaken in a bid to curb terror activities in India. Let us look back at terrorism in India in the past one year and also how the government has coped up with this issue.

The year 2009 largely focused on the investigations into the Mumbai attack. Four months after the attack the chargesheet was filed and 12 Pakistanis apart from the lone surviving gunman Ajmal Kasab were named in it.

There was growing pressure from the people of the country to act upon terror. It was clear that there was a failure and also lack of coordination among the security agencies which made the job of terrorists easier. The government of India then set up a Multi Agency Centre apart from a nodal agency within the Intelligence Bureau which was made responsible for coordination. Apart from this subsidiary multi agencied were also set up which were handed over the responsibility to maintain a data bank regarding terrorists and their outfits.

On January 1 2009 three blasts rocked Assam in which several people were killed and many other injured. The blasts took place ahead of the visit by the Home Minister to the state. The hand of ULFA was confirmed in the blasts.

On January 3, an important arrest was made in Uttar Pradesh, Mirzapur. The police said that these were members of a local terror outfit sponsored by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. 5200 kilograms of ammonium nitrate, 41 bundles of fuse wire, 300 detonators, 157 detonator chargers, and a locally made pistol, a rifle and some cartridges were seized from them.

On January 5, the government handed over the first bit of evidence to Pakistan stating its role in the Mumbai attack. The government also stepped up pressure on Pakistan to hand over the terrorists it had with them.

On January 7th, the Gujarat police made an important breakthrough in the serial blasts case when it arrested a man by the name Ghulam Mustafa. While his role in the serial blasts was being probed, it also became clear that he had planned on carrying out several attacks in the state. Three days later an ISI agent, Amir Ahmed was picked up in Meerut along with documents having information on anti tank guided missiles.

The Union Government decided to undertake measures to strenghthen local intelligence gathering. The government directed all states to form a dedicated fund so that this machinery could be strengthened.

The year 2009 also saw the formation of the National Investigating Agency. This agency was set up and the role assigned to it was to investigate all cases pertaining to terrorism anywhere in the country. The first chief of the agency was Radha Vinod Raju

In January 2009 there was an important breakthrough that was made in the Bangalore blasts case with the arrest of E. T. Zainudheen alias Abdul Sattar, a native of Malappuram District in Kerala. Sattar was closely associated with Riyaz Bhatkal, a leader of the IM

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) restructured two of its divisions, the Internal Security (IS) and Police. It assigned more senior officers to look into operational aspects of anti-terror operations.

A key SIMI operative by the name Amil Parvesh was arrested in Kerala and he confessed that he had trained several persons in bomb making. He said that he was sent from Madhya Pradesh to southern Indian to train cadres.

In February, the investigation into the Mumbai attack got a boost with the FBI passing on evidence stating that the entire plan was hatched in Pakistan. The FBI handed over details of the VoIP and satellite phone conversation details which indicated that the Mumbai attack was planned in Pakistan.

In March 2009, the Bangalore police made an important arrest and for the first time the ulf link to terror operations in India were revealed. Sarfaraz Nawaz was picked up from Muscat and brought down to Bangalore for allegedly funding the blasts. He confirmed that funds were being raised from several rich persons in the Gulf to facilitate terror attacks in India.

Another interesting development that came to light was that the Lashkar-e-Tayiba had for the first time utilized cadres from Kerala for their Kashmir operation. Fiyaz Ahammed, Sajad Ahammed Reshi and Shabbir Ahammed Tal took part in the terror camp organised by the LeT in Kupwara and Dorusa forest areas in Kashmir.

On March 23, the trial in the Mumbai case commences with Kasab confirming that he was a Pakistan national. The prosecution proposed 312 charges against him

On April 6th another blast rocked Assam in which 6 persons were injured.

In the month of May India expressed displeasure over the manner in which Pakistan was handling the perpertrators of the Mumbai attack. The Home Minister on the release of Hafiz Sayeed had said that Pakistan does not show a degree of seriousness and commitment that it should.

A very important arrest of Omar Madani was made in New Delhi. The Delhi police had said that he had helped various militants cross over from Pakistan to India through Nepal. It was also revealed that he had prepared an accutrate route map which was used by the Mumbai map maker Fahim Ansari.

In June the government decided to increase the number of coastal police stations. It was also decided to take steps to better the coordination between the Navy, Coast Guard, Marine Police of States apart from the intelligence agencies to increase security vigil. The government also set up a high level committee to review the costal security in the aftermath of the Mumbai attack. Further the government also decided to introduce identification cards to the residents of coastal villages. The government said that entire process would be complted by March 10

In July Pakistan for the first time handed over a 36 page dossier and confirmed the Lashkar-e-Tayiba had carried out the Mumbai attacks. The dossier termed Lashkar operations chief Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi as the mastermind and admitting the Pakistan nationality of Ajmal Amir Kasab.

I August, India handed over another dossier to Pakistan on the Mumbai attack. In the dossier it pressed the need to prosecute Lashkar bosss Hafiz Sayeed The dossier, comprising a seven-page summary and 60 pages of annexure, contains replies to queries posed by Pakistan with regard to investigation and legal process involved in the 26/11 attacks which were carried out by Lashkar.

A special POTA court sentenced to death three persons in connection with the bomb blast case of August 2003. The sentence against was pronounced against Haneef Sayyed, his wife Fahmeeda and Ashrat Ansari.

The Union Government informed the Supreme Court that after the Mumbai terrorist attacks, it asked the States to set up anti-terrorist squads, and many States did so. This was in response to a petition which had expressed concern over the police using outdated weapons and being ill-equipped to handle terror attacks.

A paramilitary force called the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) set up 578 security posts on the Butan and Nepal border to curb infiltration by terrorists.

In the month of August, the government proposed to enact a federal anti terror law to give more powers to the NIA. The government also planned on setting up a centralized system to monitor communications on mobile phones, internet and also landlines.

On August 30, Vikki, son of Majid Manihar who is an ISI agent was picked up in Uttar Pradesh. He revealed that counterfeit currency was printed in Lahore and Karachi in Pakistan from where it is sent to Nepal by cargo and then to India. The entire operation is managed by the ISI through its Nepal-based agent Manihar, Vikki’s father. A month later Fake currency worth Rs 209000 brought from Bangladesh was recovered from a youth in Raipur in Chhattisgarh.

Sudhanshu Sudhakar, a dismissed Indian army jawan was arrested for working for the ISI. He had been tipping off the ISI regarding the operations of the Indian army so as to help terrorists infiltrate into India.

October was a turning point for the investigations in the Mumbai attack. The FBI picked up two persons, David Headley and Tawwahur Rana in connection with a plot to attack a Danish newspaper. Later it came to light that the two of them were involved in the Mumbai attack and had carried out a reccee of the attacked targets.

On November 14, a spy from Pakistan was picked up in New Delhi. He was trying to board a flight to Saudi Arabia with important defence documents.

The same month the Home Minister announced that a DNA data bank would be set up. He also announced that there would be a modernization plan which would include the opening of forensic labs and mobile units apart from Global Unique File descroptors.

On November 16, Nuclear installations in the coutry were put on high alert after the FBI found that Headley had them on the radar.

In the same month the BSF picks up T Nasir, a Lashkar operative who had allegedly masterminded the Bangalore blasts apart from sending cadres to Kashmir to fight alongside other Lashkar operatives.

November 26 marked the first anniversary of the Mumbai attack. This event was marred by controversy with the wife of Ashok Kamte, alleging that the Mumbai police had not enough to save her husband.

Two days later the Home Ministry said that Rs 1.47 billion has been sactioned to establish secure online connectivity between various agencies.This was in addition to the scheme of INR 41.85 billion for modernising CPMF to enhance their operational capabilities. Under this scheme, the forces would be equipped with latest weapons, surveillance and communication facilities and body-protection gear.

The Shy Girl Wants A Divorce

Jawaharlal Neheru while announcing the formation of a united Andhra Pradesh had said on the Telangana issue, “an innocent girl called Telangana is being married to a naughty boy called Andhra. It is of their choice to continue or to get separated.

Today the people of Telangana say that the time has come and the innocent girl can no longer stay married to the naughty boy. Several protagonists of the movement say that it is high time the state is given back to them.

Dr Srinivas Raj, one of the protagonists of the Telangana movement has prepared a ready reckoner on the issue. He along with several others have been distributing this booklet among the people of Telangana and convincing the people as to why this movement is important and how their lives would change once their state is given back to them.

In this interview with rediff.com, Dr Raj gives very interesting about the movement. He also goes into length about the backroom politics that is being played in trying to curb this movement.

Would you like to give us a brief introduction to the entire movement called Telangana?

We talk of Jalianwala Bagh with such great interest. No one wants to even think of the massacre that had taken place in Telangana at the time the Nizam was ruling us. The Hyderabad state was under the Nizam and Urdu was the official language at that time. Right from that period of time, the people of Telangana were being suppressed. The Nizam’s army butchered the people of Telangana who sought for their rights and there were at least 6 Jalianwala Bhaghs at that point of time. The problem is that we continue to get suppressed even today and that is why we feel that a separate state is required.

You had a separate state, then what happened?

Between 1948 and 1956 Telangana was a separate state. Hyderabad had several industries including two airports. There was a lot of concentration on the Telangana region and this area has a lot of infrastructure. The Time Magazine had in 1937 featured V Usman Ali Khan as the wealthiest man in the world. This only speaks of the wealth that there was in this region. Once Andhra and Rayalseema came out of the Madras presidency, the people of those regions thought that it would be best to merge Telangana with their regions. Our Assembly building, the High court building were all from the Nizam’s period. Moreover in 1909 M Visveswaraya, the father of engineering had constructed an underground drainage system in Hyderabad which is being used till date. 69 per cent of the Krishna catchment area is in Telangana region. The revenues that were being generated out of the Telangana region were good too when compared to Andhra and Rayalseema. The very fact that Dr B R Ambedkar had said that Hyderabad should be made the second capital of India speaks volumes about the region. Moreover Hyderabad is a connecting point between North and South India. They wanted ready made infrastructure which was in abundance in Telangana and hence they managed to pressurize the government of India to consider their decision.

Were there promises broken when the Union Government merged Telangana?

Yes the very first promise that was broken was regarding the name of the state. The union government had promised us that the state would be known as the Andhra Telangana state. However overnight the leaders from the Andhra and Rayalseema regions managed to convince the union government to change the name to Andhra Pradesh. This was the first of the promises to be broken. After that the leaders of the two other regions worked consistently to make Telangana a backward region. Another instance of a broken promise is the fact that the Shriram Sagar water project in Nizamabad is lying in the cold storage since the past 40 years.

What is the main justification for seeking a separate state? Do you really think that things would improve?

It is absolutely important that we be given a separate state. Our accent and our culture is different. Our style is very Deccan and we use a lot of Urdu when we speak. We have a mixture of Northern and Southern style. We even celebrate Holi. We have every reason to demand for a state. To be honest, if Telangana is carved out it would be bigger than 100 countries in the world and larger than 18 different states in the country. Once Telangana is carved out it will be 1,14,800 square kilometers.

What we fail to understand is that how did the Government manage to bypass all of you and merge Telangana?

We concentrated more on development and not politics. The simple fact is that we did not have access to the central leadership like the way the leaders of Andhra and Rayalseema had.

How do the people of Telangana region look at the people of the rest of Andhra Pradesh?

The question should be the other way around. Since day one, we have been treated like second rated citizens. Depriving us of development is one issue, but the fact that everyone makes fun of us is also an important point over here. Take the film industry for instance. There are no cinema heroes from our region. Moreover what hurts the most is that the language spoken by the people of Telangana is always attributed to a joker or a villain in the movie.

There has been terrible violence due to this issue. Would you want to justify that?

The violence is not half of what the media has been projecting. I have statistics to support my view. In the Telangana region, the Andhra Pradesh Road Transport Corporation faced a loss of Rs 7 crore due to the protests. This was mainly because the services were shut down and also due to incidents of stone pelting. Whereas in Andhra and Rayalseema the losses were to the tune of Rs 70 crore and this was largely because buses were being burnt. The BSNL too had said that at the Shrikrishna Devaraya university at Rayalseema, students had burnt its optic fibres which resulted in a loss of Rs 2 crore. There was also an incident in which supporters of J C Divaker Reddy in Rayalseema had bombed a railway station.causing a loss of Rs 10 crore. Now it is clear that the people of Telangana have not been protesting in these regions. I can say with gurantee that we have only protested in a democratic manner. All these statistics have never been reported by the media since 95 per cent of the media is being controlled by barons from the Andhra and Rayalseema belts. The media too has been asked to project only incidents taking place in the Rayalseema region. Please understand this is a demand by us for the past 50 years, it is not something that has happened overnight.

What is your view on the flip flop by political parties in Andhra Pradesh?

Both the Telegu Desam Party and the Praja Rajyam Party had said that they would support the bill if it is introduced. Till the 2009 elections, the TDP was against Telangana, but at the time of the polls they joined hands with the TRS since it felt that the demand was very strong. Today due to pressure from the other regions, they are back tracking. There was also this issue when many legislators raised a point saying that the union government had acted in haste by announcing the formation of a separate state during midnight. I would like to ask them whether they had a problem when India got independence at mid night.

This issue has scared off investors. Aren’t you worried that prices will drop and the economy will suffer.

The people of Andhra and Rayalseema have purchased lands from the poor people of Telangana at throw away prices. Over the years they have inflated the prices by 100 times. These persons are worried. There is also the middle class which has invested in land in the Telangana region. I would say for a fact that the prices would drop by half once Telangana is formed. However this is temporary. Once the state is formed and the Telangana government invites investors, the real estate would be back to normal.

Finally, there is a murmur that Jagan Reddy could be behind all this in a bid to overthrow Rosaiah. What is your take on this?

(Laughs), He is very much behind the scene or at least was behind it. He did try and overthrow Rosaiah by escalating the tension. However things went out of control when the movement went into the hands of the Telangana people. He is now in soup since there is pressure from the people of his belt. He is now trying to paint a different picture to come out of the soup.

JAC decides Telangana agitation to be peaceful

A Joint Action Committee formed to address the Telangana issue decided on Wednesday night not to resort to bundhs, which affect public life.
The meeting headed by Telangana Rastriya Samithi Chief K Chandrashekhar Rao also decided to keep the agitation peaceful.

A TRS leader, who was part of the meeting that had leaders from all the parties belonging to the Telangana region, told rediff.com that they would continue to step up the pressure but would never resort to violence.

The meeting, which just concluded, also decided that there would be dharnas held in the entire Telangana region, but they would all be peaceful. The meeting also revealed its displeasure over the delay tactics being adopted by the Union home ministry.

At the meeting it was decided that they would hold dharnas and protest meetings only to keep reminding the government that their voice regarding the issue has not been lowered. The meeting also decided to adopt a ‘wait and watch’ policy.

“We will wait till January 5 to see what result the meeting of the home minister would yield,” he said.

Several prominent leaders of the Telangana region including former home minister of Andhra Pradesh Jana Reddy were also present at the meeting.