A TSRTC conductor allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself at his house on Sunday night, October 13, hours after a driver who self-immolated himself succumbed to his injuries at a hospital, police said. Surender Goud, aged around 50, hanged himself from a ceiling fan at his house, even as family members broke open the door of his room and shifted him to a nearby hospital where doctors declared him brought dead around 9.30 pm, an official attached to the Kulsumpura police station said. Asked about the reason behind the suicide, police said Goud was apparently depressed over the "fear of job loss and the non-payment of September salary" due to the ongoing Telangana State Road Transport Corporation strike.
Earlier, a 55-year-old TSRTC driver died on Sunday, a day after he set himself ablaze, even as the strike by the transport employees in Telangana entered the ninth day. D Srinivas Reddy, who was part of the group of employees on a state-wide strike for the last nine days, died of burn injuries, hospital sources told PTI. The driver had doused himself with kerosene and set himself ablaze near his house in Khammam, about 190 km from Hyderabad, reportedly in protest against the government not acceding to the demands of striking employees. As news about Reddy's death spread, a large number of striking employees of TSRTC gathered near the hospital, but police at the spot whisked them away in police vehicles.
Protests also broke out in different parts of the city and other places, with employees raising slogans and holding the state government responsible for Reddy's death. At many places, the striking employees and workers observed silence and later took out protest rallies and raised slogans like 'Srinivas Reddy Amar Rahe', while candlelight vigil was also held at some places on Sunday evening. In a related development, another TSRTC driver, aged around 40, doused himself with petrol at Narsampet depot in Warangal district on Sunday, however, police immediately intervened and foiled his alleged self-immolation bid. The employees, who have been on strike since 5 October, demanding the merger of TSRTC with the government among others also organized 'Vanta Varpu' (mass cooking) besides forming human chains as part of the stir at many places in the state.
Condoling the driver's death, Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said the incident has pained him very much.
"My condolences to the family of TSRTC driver, Sri D.Srinivas Reddy who passed away in an unfortunate incident today. TS govt should realise the agony being caused by the ongoing strike to general public.Govt should convene stakeholder meet at the earliest"
The Union minister urged the Telangana government to take steps to resolve the issue amicably by holding talks with the unions. He also extended his condolences to the bereaved family. Telangana ministers, leaders of opposition parties, including the Congress and the BJP, also condoled Reddy's death. The Joint Action Committee of TSRTC has given a 'bandh' call in Khammam district on Monday. Congress Legislature Party leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka extended party's support to the call. Taking a tough stand, Chief Minister KC Rao had said the 48,000 striking RTC staff had "self-dismissed" themselves as he also made it very clear that under no circumstances would the RTC be merged with the government.
Rao has also directed officials that only those who have stayed away from the strike would be given the September salary. On Saturday, he had said there was no question of having talks with the striking employees or taking them back, terming the agitation as "illegal." Rao also directed officials to restore bus services and if need be, recruit employees, utilise the services of retired RTC and police department drivers.