‘Strike already claimed six lives’

The 60-day-long strike by APSRTC employees has claimed lives of six RTC workers who succumbed to the mounting financial woes that had made it impossible for them to make both ends meet.

The deceased include sramik (cleaner) Ramaraju from Saluru depot near Nellore, N.C. Raju (sramik) from Palakonda, driver Ramaiah and traffic inspector Somasekhar Raju from Nellore, Naga Munaiah (driver) from Proddutur and another contract driver from Narasipatnam near Visakhapatnam.

Somasekhar Raju died of cardiac arrest while he was on a hunger strike. According to his colleagues, he was very anxious about his uncertain future in the event of bifurcation of the State.

Victims of strike

“All of them died due to mounting financial woes. The ‘Samaikyandhra’ agitation is not a time-bound protest. We realised the seriousness of the situation and fearing that the situation, if allowed to prolong, may even lead to starvation deaths, we decided to call off the strike with immediate effect,” Y. Venkateswara Rao, APSRTC Employees’ Union Zonal Secretary, told The Hindu.

He said the RTC workers, especially those on contract system, were the worst hit by the strike. Some of them had turned daily wage coolies, or worked in road side kiosks, as hotel servers or cleaners or masons to eke out a living, he said.

Tale of misery

The sound of revved up engines of the APSRTC buses that hit the city roads after a 60-day long strike may sound like music to the ears of the common man but there is a veiled tale of misery that actually spurred the APSRTC JAC leaders to join duties, leaving abruptly the agitation for ‘Samaiakyandhra’, a cause so close to their heart.

The State executive of the APSRTC JACs in 13 districts of Seemandhra region which met in Hyderabad a couple of days ago to review the strike fallout was overwhelmed by the facts that surfaced at the meet.

The previous day, Transport Minister Botsa Satyanarayana, had made a fervent appeal to the leaders to call off strike keeping in view the public inconvenience. Pointing to the fact that private vehicle operators had unleashed anarchy on the roads in the absence of RTC buses, he had asked the JAC to also consider the mounding financial losses to the organisation.

Mr. Rao said though the RTC employees had agreed to join duties for now they would not hesitate to jump into the agitation again if an attempt was made to introduce ‘T’ bill in the Assembly. ..