Hyderabad, Oct 28 : Another employee of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) committed suicide on Monday even as the strike in the state-owned transport utility entered 24th day.
Woman conductor Neeraja (31) hanged herself at her house in Khammam. Her family members alleged that she was under depression over being sacked for participating in the strike. Like other striking employees, she had also not received the salary for September.
Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao has already announced that over 48,000 employees lost their jobs as they did not return to duties before the expiry of the deadline on October 5.
Neeraja, who was working at TSRTC depot at Sattupalli in Khammam district, took the extreme step a day after Diwali. She had gone to her parents’ house to celebrate the festival but returned on Monday as she was to participate in a protest along with her colleagues in front of the TSRTC depot. However, the mother of two hanged herself when she was alone at home.
The suicide triggered protest by TSRTC workers in Khammam and Sattupalli. The protestors took to streets and raised slogans against the Chief Minister.
TSRTC employees carried the body of Neeraja to the office of the District Collector and staged a sit-in. Tension prevailed at the Collector’s office as police stopped the protestors from entering the complex.
Neerja is the third TSRTC employee to commit suicide. Earlier, a driver in Khammam and a conductor in Hyderabad had killed themselves. Some other employees also died of cardiac arrest.
The strike continued for a 24th consecutive day on Monday. The employees took out rallies from depots to the offices of District Collectors to press for their demands.
The talks held between the TSRTC and leaders of striking employees, on the direction of the Telangana High Court on Saturday, had failed to break the impasse.
Meanwhile, the High Court on Monday resumed the hearing on Public Interest Litigations (PILs), seeking directions to end the strike.
The division bench headed by Chief Justice R.S. Chauhan suggested that if the demand for the TSRTC’s merger with the government is not set aside, the deadlock will continue and people will continue to suffer. It observed that the demand of merger is the main hurdle but on other demands, there is only a difference of opinion.
Additional Advocate General Ramachandra Rao informed the court that the committee of executive directors of the TSRTC, in its report submitted to the government, stated that Rs 46.2 crore are required for 16 out of 21 demands of the employees but the TSRTC is not in a position to bear the expenditure. He said the government can’t provide required funds for meeting these demands.
The court took exception to his remarks and wanted to know why the government can’t give even Rs 47 crore to resolve the problem.
The court summoned Advocate General B. S. Prasad, who promised to get back after checking with the government. The bench remarked that if he has any problem, it will summon the Chief Secretary and the Finance Secretary.
Counsel of the striking employees submitted to the court that the TSRTC was in losses because the government and Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation have not reimbursed the amount to the tune of Rs 4,967 crore. The judges wanted to know if this is true and asked the government to inform about the same on Tuesday.