“Woes of Telangana martyrs’ family members will be represented to party high command”.

Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh on Wednesday recalled the history of six-decade-long agitation for Telangana and how a band of 40 Congress leaders proclaimed in Mahabubnagar on September 21, 2000, that they wanted a separate State.

Addressing a gathering comprising city Congress leaders and family members of about 170 people who had given up their lives for Telangana in recent years, he went on to point out that the Telangana Rashtra Samithi was formed on the T-plank, seven months later, on April 21, 2001.

This single instance, he said, was enough to drive home the message that it was only the Congress party that had stuck to its promise of helping the people of the region realise their dream.

The meeting of Telangana martyrs’ family members was an initiative of the Congress MP and AICC secretary, V. Hanumantha Rao, and attended among others by former IAS officer and chairman of the Scheduled Castes department in the AICC K. Raju, Telangana PCC president Ponnala Lakshmaiah, former Minister K. Jana Reddy, MP M.A. Khan and former MPs Madhu Yashki Goud, Ponnam Prabhakar, M. Anjan Kumar Yadav and former MLA Kodanda Reddy.

The speakers said that once they formed the government in Telangana, they would represent the woes of martyrs’ family members to the party high command. Mr. Hanumantha Rao, who presided over the event that lasted for about four hours, kept up a running commentary before introducing every speaker and recalling their services and the role they played in the past few years. He repeatedly said they would ensure that every welfare programme they intended to take up for the families of the martyrs would be included in the party’s election manifesto.

Mr. Raju, who has been working specially on formulating welfare programmes for the SCs with AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi, said no effort should be spared to make a Telangana with social justice and where the weaker sections would truly be empowered. He said it was the responsibility of each and every Congress leader to work towards achieving the objective of a State where there would be equal opportunities for all.

Mr. Ponnala Lakshmaiah said that June 2, the day when Telangana would come into existence as the 29 State, would be dedicated to the martyrs. He said an extent of five acres would be identified and developed as a Martyrs’ Memorial Park in Hyderabad.