Strike
Srinivas Reddy, a driver with Telangana’s Khammam depot, set himself ablaze at his residence and sustained 90% burns.

The TSRTC employee who set himself ablaze on Saturday at Khammam succumbed to his injuries on Sunday morning. 

The employee, Srinivas Reddy, was a driver with the Khammam depot for over 20 years. He immolated himself at his residence and sustained 90% burns.

Srinivas' death was confirmed to TNM by Raji Reddy, the leader of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) that's leading the statewide strike. 

"CM KCR and transport minister Puvvada Ajay are responsible for his death. They have constantly provoked the employees by repeatedly making statements about dismissals, and not hiring the employees. The CM and minister are indirectly responsible for this. What is the need to make such intimidating statements?"  JAC leader Raji Reddy told TNM. 

"I spoke to Srinivas's family. They said that he did not have any financial problems, but he was depressed with the ongoing crisis. He always worked for the welfare of the TSRTC employees," he added.

Following the tragic death, the protesting JAC has called for a bandh in Khammam district on October 14. The JAC leaders said that they would honour Srinivas Reddy by taking his dead boy to Bus Bhavan, the office of TSRTC in Hyderabad. 

Srinivas was one of over 48,000 employees taking part in the statewide agitation for the Telangana government to fulfill 26 demands of TSRTC employees, including merging the corporation with the government. On Saturday, in videos that emerged on social media, Srinivas could be heard saying, "All the labourers who are working since 40 years should do well/get welfare, tell me where are my sister and mother.”

The incident triggered protests by striking employees in Khammam town and other parts of the district. Protestors near Khammam district collector's office damaged the window panes of an RTC bus and attacked the temporary driver. With TSRTC operating buses with temporary staff, three incidents of attacks on temporary drivers occurred in Khammam.

However, the government is adamant on its stand, and the Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao has said that the employees have been dismissed, but there is no official order yet. On Saturday, KCR reiterated that he will not reinstate the 48000-plus TSRTC employees who are on strike. Terming the TSRTC protests as “illegal”, the CM said that the government will never recognize their strike. 

RTC unions began an indefinite strike on October 5, and have refused to back down. As the strike by nearly 50,000 employees entered its eighth day on Saturday, the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of various employee unions announced their action plan to intensify the protest.

The striking employees will organise 'vanta varpu' or cooking on roads across the state on October 13. The JAC has called for sit-in and protest meetings in front of bus depots on October 14. The next day it will organise road blockades and form human chains. They have also called for a statewide bandh on October 19. 

With IANS inputs