news Tuesday, June 02, 2015 - 05:30
A year after new statehood, on Telangana Formation Day, the Osmania University (OU), which was the epicentre of the campaign for statehood, remains a battleground. Reminiscent of the turbulent times the University put itself through in its long drawn struggle for statehood, students and police forces clashed again this morning.  Protesting students were bundled into vans and trucks by police, arresting them for unlawful protests. This time though they were protesting against the Government of Telangana, and the TRS, the party in power and their erstwhile ally. For  OU, the victory of Telangana was pyrrhic. Through the years of protest, Andhra Pradesh police cracked down ruthlessly on the students every time they raised their voice. The same is happening today, but this time it is the Telangana police. The badges which the policemen wear have changed, their targets have not. (Students raise slogans and wave black flags in the campus. Image: Uma Sudhir) A lone TRS student union flag sways in the wind at the campus, which is the only sign of the fact that exactly one year ago India's 29th state was formed. Behind the flag is a protest poster, calling for a boycott of Telangana day celebrations. For the past two weeks, students at the campus have been protesting against the ruling TRS govt and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao's decision to acquire prime land in the campus and provide housing and shelter for the poor. Housing for the poor was a top election agenda of the TRS, but the move to take over OU’s land for that is being seen as a move to transfer land to real estate barons, and reduce the power the University wields. "We feel betrayed," says one of the students who wished to remain anonymous, "I was there during the Telangana agitation and we had pinned a lot of hopes on the TRS. Now look, they want to make our campus into a real estate venture," he says. He seethes with anger as he narrates how he fought for statehood. He was one of the students who faced the wrath of police forces this morning. (Scenes from the main block of the University, during the peak of the Telangana agitaion) "What happened to all the ambitious dreams that KCR had for the OU students who fought by his side?" asks another, "Where do we figure in his list of priorities after he came into power?" It is not just the land acquisition which students have a problem with. "We thought that the TRS would care for the people of Telangana. But one year later, everything is still the same. No great employment opportunities have come our way and we have no advantage after all the protests we did last year," says one of the protesters.   Multiple protests on #Osmania University; slogans against #KCR, asking police to quit campus — Uma Sudhir (@umasudhir) June 2, 2015   Writing for The News Minute, former professor at the Department of Journalism, Padmaja Shaw, talks about how the TRS government, from day one, took to consolidating power rather than living up to its promises.  “Before elections, education, jobs and health care were the priorities. Today, after one year of government formation, none of the universities have vice chancellors, there is a concerted attempt to amend the Universities Act to further politicise the appointment of VCs, and a move to have political side-kicks as chancellors of universities. Universities are being seen as another arena for dispensing political patronage, while milking their resources for political gains,” she writes. But KCR does have his supporters within the campus. Professor Kodandram, who spearheaded the Telangana movement within OU and added immensely to the movement, becoming a power centre himself, takes heart in the fact that at least issues related to Telangana are coming to fore now.  “In the last one year, the government has invested money in the power sector instead of encouraging the private sector. It has also been trying to revive the tanks. Pensions for widows, the old-aged and the physically challenged have been increased. What we have witnessed is a regime change,” he says. There is a sense of disappointment outside the campus too. Speaking to The News Minute, Vara Vara Rao, poet and political activist, says, “The people of the state have been misled by the 'Kakatiya Mission', which should be renamed the "Kakatiya commission," with its various benami contractors and TRS politicians taking a cut from the mission,” and adds, “After all the promises for tribals and SC/STs, the chief minister does not look too interested in protecting the minorities interests. The Godavari Valley Coalfield extended to the districts of Adilabad, Karimnagar, Khammam and Warangal is being destroyed by mining while more tribals get displaced.” Chief Minister Rao, however, has been dismissing his spurned supporters with nonchalance. “This kind of fragile element can be seen everywhere. When N.T. Rama Rao formed his party, so many joined it very fast and so many also left very fast. TRS is no exception. People level baseless allegations. I never said that I will raze Ramoji Film City with one lakh ploughs. I never said that, somebody raised that slogan before TRS was born. Now they ask me what you are doing. What should I say? Like this there are so many things, I never uttered such words. I was running the movement with utmost caution peacefully for 14-15 long years,” he told The Hindu. But most agree that a year into power is too early to judge if, as Sanjaya Baru says, Telangana will mimic the example of Gujarat, which prospered after separation, or that of Jharkhand, which did not gain from statehood.