Two employees of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation died on Sunday amid an ongoing strike against the state government. The two were identified as Srinivas Reddy from Khammam and Sudershan or Surender Goud, according to reports. Two other employees also tried to end their lives but were rescued by the police, India Today reported.
Reddy, a bus driver at the Khammam depot of the state road transport corporation, set himself on fire on Saturday. He suffered 90% burn injuries and was moved to a hospital in Hyderabad, where he succumbed to his injuries on Sunday morning.
Even as reports about Reddy’s death led to protests across the state, Goud hung himself at his house in Hyderabad. Goud was a conductor in the Ranigunj depot.
Worker unions of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation have been on strike since October 5. They have a set of 26 demands, but the government has called the strike illegal. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao last week sacked nearly 48,000 protesting transport employees, who defied his order to return to work. He said he had not dismissed them but they had “opted for self-dismissal” by not reporting for duty before a deadline he gave.
Reddy, Goud and the other two men were reportedly upset about Rao’s decision to sack them.
The state government has ruled out talks with the striking employees. “We are not shaken or afraid,” Rao said on Sunday, according to NDTV. “We won’t tolerate any attempt to stop buses or organise protests at bus depots.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party called the deaths heartbreaking and held Rao responsible. “It’s only after KCR’s brazen decision to dismiss all 48,000 employees and after his provocative statements, Srinivas Reddy has taken the hasty decision to end his life,” the BJP said in a statement. The Congress, the Telugu Desam Party and the Communist Party of India have also blamed the state government for not taking care of the employees’ demands, and have sought compensation for the victims.
The Telangana High Court, meanwhile, will hear a case in connection with the strike on Tuesday. Educational institutions in the state have been told to extend the Dussehra vacations by a week and remain shut in view of the protests, according to The Times of India.