Hyderabad, Dec 27: The Andhra Pradesh government Monday decided to withdraw 135 more cases registered during the protests for a separate Telangana after MPs of the ruling Congress held a hunger strike on the issue. But the MPs refused to call off their protest till all cases were withdrawn.
Senior minister K. Jana Reddy told reporters Monday evening the government had decided to withdraw 135 cases, which would result in the release of 700 people.
Stating that the government was considering withdrawal of the 970 remaining cases, he appealed to the MPs to call off their fast.
Two other ministers from the region, D. Sridhar Babu and B. Saraiah, also appealed to the MPs to withdraw the hunger strike.
However, the 11 MPs from the region, who launched the fast in the morning embarrassing their own party’s government in the state, have demanded that all cases be withdrawn.
The announcement to withdraw 135 cases was taken after Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy held a series of consultations with ministers from Telangana and senior officials.
Ignoring appeals from party leaders, including the chief minister, the MPs started the hunger strike at New MLA Quarters after police made them vacate the Gun Park opposite the state assembly.
For over two hours the MPs sat on fast at the Telangana Martyrs’ Memorial in Gun Park and paid their tributes to those killed in the earlier Telangana movement. Holding placards, the MPs raised slogans like “We want justice”.
As police told the MPs that they couldn’t sit on fast in view of the prohibitory orders in the area, the MPs moved to New MLA Quarters.
Telangana Joint Action Committee convenor M. Kodandaram, Maoist sympathizer and Telangana Praja Front leader Gaddar, leaders of Telangana government employees and lawyers associations visited the MPs to express solidarity.
Worried over the impact the fast could have ahead of the Justice B.N. Srikrishna Committee’s report, the chief minister deputed two ministers from Telangana to talk to MPs and urge them to call off the fast.
The panel, which is examining the question of a separate Telangana state, is to submit its report by Dec 31.
Kiran Kumar Reddy met ministers from Telangana, Chief Secretary S.V. Prasad and Director General of Police Aravinda Rao to consider withdrawal of cases.
The government earlier this month withdrew 562 cases against 2,436 people who participated in the protests for and against statehood to Telangana.
A total of 1,667 cases were filed against 8,047 people between December 2009 and September this year.
The Congress MPs began the protest despite appeals from the chief minister as well as state party chief D. Srinivas, not to embarrass the government.
Led by senior leader and Rajya Sabha member K. Keshava Rao, the MPs offered homage to Mahatma Gandhi at the assembly before their hunger strike.
Keshava Rao said 21 legislators and other leaders were also participating in the fast.
“This is the Gandhian way of protest. This is moral self-infliction and it is aimed at bringing pressure on the government,” said Keshava Rao.
The senior leader said they had to launch the fast as they were feeling helpless at their failure to convince the government to withdraw the cases.
Another MP, P. Prabhakar, told reporters that the fast was to restore the Telangana people’s confidence in democracy and also to save the Congress party in the region.
They recalled that union Home Minister P. Chidambaram had Dec 9, 2009 announced that all the cases would be withdrawn.
The MPs also demanded that the central paramilitary forces deployed at the request of the state government be recalled.
“What is the need to have paramilitary forces when there are no incidents of violence,” asked Keshava Rao.
The forces were deployed in anticipation that the Srikrishna Committee report could trigger trouble in the state.
Of the 12 Congress Lok Sabha MPs from Telangana, eight participated in the fast. Three of the party’s four Rajya Sabha MPs also joined the protest. –(IANS)