Protests paralyse Andhra admin; CM avoids office

The protests triggered by the union government's decision to carve out a separate Telangana state from Andhra Pradesh have not only paralysed the state administration but led to tension on Tuesday between the employees of Telangana and Seemandhra regions at government offices in Hyderabad.

The employees from Telangana and Seemandhra nearly came to blows at Jala Soudha and Vidyut Soudha, the offices of the irrigation and electricity departments respectively.

Meanwhile, government and administration in the state are virtually paralysed.

The growing unease is fuelling fears of further chaos and anarchy across the state and government employees, divided along regional lines, are refusing to work with each other.

The secretariat in Hyderabad, the seat of administration and now the joint capital of the two states, is largely empty, with chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy and his council of ministers staying away from office for a week now.

Reddy, who was against the division of Andhra Pradesh, spent just an hour in his office on 1 August, and was meeting representatives from the Telangana and Seemandhra regions at the camp office, and at home during the day.

Paralysing work in government departments, employees sharply divided along regional lines are reportedly not moving key files.

The incident at Jala Soudha took place during lunch hour when Seemandhra employees were staging a protest against the central government's decision to bifurcate the state. They were raising slogans in favour of 'samaikya Andhra' or united Andhra.

The employees from Telangana, who were holding a meeting at the same office to mark the birth anniversary of late leader Jayashankar, raised counter slogans, supporting formation of Telangana state.

The two sides had heated arguments and nearly came to blows. Police intervened to prevent the situation from turning uglier.

Meanwhile, Seemandhra employees continued their protest at the state secretariat. Raising slogans of "we want Hyderabad" and "we want samaikya (united) Andhra", they took out a rally and demanded that the central government should reverse its decision.

The ministers from Seemandhra are also not coming to the secretariat as many of them are busy meeting the chief minister or lobbying in Delhi against the state's division.

A majority of the ministers from Telangana are also staying away from their offices. With no review meetings being held, top officials are also not coming to the secretariat.

Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh Non-Gazetted Officers' Association (APNGO), representing Seemandhra employees, served strike notice on the government. The employees of all government departments in 13 districts of Seemandhra and in Hyderabad will go on indefinite strike from midnight of 12 August.

After serving the notice on Chief Secretary P K Mohanty, APNGO president Ashok Babu said they would go on strike if the central and state ministers and MPs and state legislators from Seemandhra failed to resign to mount pressure on the central government.

"We want to create a political vacuum in the parliament to stall the state's division," he said.

The employees of Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corp have also decided to join the strike.

He hoped that employees of municipal administration and electricity departments would also join the strike.

Ashok Babu said the employees and students would be hit hard by the state's division. "We are going on strike as we feel this is our social responsibility. We appeal to people to cooperate as division would cause more pain and loss," he added.

Nearly 3,000 employees belonging to Seemandhra region have been boycotting duties from August 3 at the Secretariat, even as dozens of files are piling up on their desks.