The indefinite strike by Andhra Pradesh NGOs Association against the proposed division of the state crippled government services in 13 districts across Seemandhra region for the second consecutive day even as talks held between the government and striking employees failed to end the deadlock.
More than four lakh employees in 13 districts are on strike demanding that Centre immediately withdraw its move to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh.
Talks were held between a cabinet sub-committee, comprising deputy Chief Minister Damodara Rajanarasimha, Finance Minister Anam Ramanarayana Reddy and leaders of AP Non-Gazetted Officers (APNGOs) Association in the state Secretariat but, the latter refused to call off the stir.
Government offices remained shut as employees from almost every department joined the strike.
“Me, my joint collector, revenue divisional officers and deputy collectors are on duty. No one else is at work”, the Rayalaseema Collector said.
AP NGOs Association president Ashok Babu said, “Our strike will continue till our demand is conceded. We will announce our future course of action after a meeting of employees’ associations in Guntur on 16th August.”
Meanwhile, normal life continued to be affected in various districts in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions with people from different walks of life voluntarily joining the agitation for united Andhra Pradesh which entered the 15th day on Wednesday.
Public transport came to a grinding halt across Andhra-Rayalaseema as AP State Road Transport Corporation workers too continued the strike.
In Tirupati, however, RTC drivers agreed to ply buses to Tirumala Hills, abode of Lord Venkateswara, for the convenience of thousands of pilgrims who visit the shrine daily.
Chittoor district Collector Solomon Arokia Raj is constantly monitoring the situation to ensure that no inconvenience is caused to the pilgrims.
A few hundred buses were operated by RTC to Tirumala after the district convinced the striking drivers to resume duties for the sake of the pilgrims.
In state Secretariat here, employees hailing from Andhra-Rayalaseema regions boycotted work and organised a community lunch on the premises.
They raised slogans demanding that Andhra Pradesh be kept united.
Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy reviewed the situation with Chief Secretary P.K. Mohanty and directed the latter to ensure that emergency services were not affected due to the strike.
The Chief Minister also asked heads of crucial departments like Municipal Administration, Medical and Health and Energy to see that civic and emergency services continued without hindrance.
Meanwhile, rallies and various programmes were also organised in Vijayawada in Krishna district to protests against the division of Andhra Pradesh.
A rally was held by transport employees this morning.
The RTC employees on the other hand staged a rasta roko on the national highway to stop private operators from plying their buses.
The Bar Association of Vijayawada has decided to boycott courts till August 17, Bar Association President, Jaykar Babu said.
In Visakhapatnam, the Samaikhyandhra (United Andhra Pradesh) agitation affected the normal life in the district for the second day, as commercial establishments and schools remained closed.
Nearly 3,500 revenue employees have boycotted the services bringing the administration grinding halt.
56 government departments along with Andhra University staff and others have announced their solidarity to the strike.
About 70 small and big IT companies in Visakhapatnam and 20 companies in the IT Special Economic Zone at Rushikonda and Special Economic Zone at Duvvada were severely affected.
Security has been beefed up in the district and a large number of police personnel were deployed.
According to police, seven agitators have been taken into custody.
At Rajahmundry in East Godavari district over 50,000 employees boycotted work and were joined by the civic employees in the protest.
Normal life was completely disrupted as APSRTC did not run its services due to ongoing strike.
Demonstrations against Congress president Sonia Gandhi and TRS chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao were held at various places in the district.
“Prominent business centre Ambajipet remained closed and other business centres at Tuni and Peddapuram also suffered losses due to ongoing agitation, causing massive loss in business”, a JAC spokesperson said.
The Seemandhra Lawyers Joint Action committee (JAC) co-convener Muppala Subba Rao said, hunger strikes by lawyers are being held in Rajahmundry, Kakinda and other parts of Seemandhra.
“No untoward incident was reported from any part of the district”, a police spokesman said.