By T S Sudhir
The Telangana movement is drawing inspiration from a Colonel. No, not the infamous Col Gaddafi, who of course is in the news for all the wrong reasons, but Col Bainsla, the leader of the Gujjars who turned rail rokos into an art form to get the Rajasthan government to do his bidding.
From 6 am on the first day of March till dusk, no trains will enter Telangana nor leave it. Waving the red flag (or in this case, pink, yellow and saffron flags) are Telangana Rashtra Samiti, Telugu Desam and BJP workers, supported in good measure by the common men and women of Telangana. Since morning, most railway stations have become an extension of the kitchen and village choupals.
The intention is to put pressure on the UPA government to recognise the demand of the people of the region and introduce a bill in the budget session of Parliament. Failing which there is a warning that the one-dayer could be stretched much longer.
Its geographical advantage means Telangana off-track pretty much derails the rail traffic in south India, as a majority of the south-bound trains cut through parts of the region.
What does a rail roko achieve?
One, a sense of camaraderie that arises out of the `Palle Palle Pattala Paiki’ (all villages on railway tracks). This, votaries of the movement believe, would sustain the energy and the momentum of the agitation.
Two, as opposed to bus burning or smashing of public and private property, a rail roko is a peaceful yet effective way of staging a protest. Though passengers whose trains did not move from Nagpur, Ballarshah, Tirupati railway stations weren’t too amused.
Three, in a metaphorical sense, it stops the lifeline of a state and an entire region and the hope is that it will lead to the birth of a new state. Even if that goes against the abc of biological lifescience !
(Photographs by T S Sudhir)
We suggest you also read this blog by T S Sudhir :
(T S Sudhir is a journalist and blogs at www.umasudhir.wordpress.com)