96-year-old to stage hunger strike for Telangana
New Delhi: His struggle for a separate Telangana state may have stretched several decades now but 96-year-old Acharya Konda Lakshman Bapuji remains undaunted as as he goes on a seven-day hunger strike in the capital from November one.
Announcing his decision to go on a satyagraha here on Sunday, Bapuji, a 1969 pro-Telangana agitation leader, warned that he would organise a mass agitation in the region if the Centre does not initiate the statehood process by the end of his strike. "I have been fighting for a separate state for over four decades now. Promises haven`t been kept, precious lives have been lost, yet there has been little progress in this issue.
If by the end of this satyagraha no step is taken then we will launch a mass agitation," he said. Bapuji, who is also the Chairman of Telangana Freedom Fighters` Forum, will be joined by other freedom fighters and prominent leaders from the Telangana region as he undertakes the satyagraha in Jantar Mantar here. "The satyagraha would be from 10 AM to 5 PM every day for seven days, starting from November one. We will begin the movement with a visit to Raj Ghat to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi and then move to Jantar Mantar," he said.
In May this year, he had gone on a five-day tour covering 1,100 km in all Telangana districts along with six other freedom fighters to raise awareness on "the turmoil people in the region are put through". Recalling his role in the 1969 Telangana agitation, when he was jailed, the veteran lamented that little progress had been made since he first took up the cause.
"I was jailed soon after I gave up my post as a minister on March 27, 1969. For me, a separate state was more important. Four decades have passed but little progress has been made," said the Gandhian, who also took part in the 1942 Quit India movement. "The Centre should reiterate its commitment on the separate statehood issue and address it in a time-bound manner," he said.
The forum has also shot off letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and other prominenet Union Ministers and leaders, including P Chidambaram, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Pranab Mukerjee, urging them to take a decision on the issue at the earliest.
"We need a separate Telangana and that is final. We want Nehru`s dream to be realised, Sonia Gandhi`s commitment to be re-affirmed and Congress` manifesto to be strengthened and for these to happen, a decision must be taken quickly," he said. Meanwhile, in a release issued in Hyderabad, the Joint Struggle Committee of the Unions of Telangana Officers, Employees, Teachers and Workers said that it will participate in the fast. A delegation of the Committee, comprising 25 Associations would leave for Delhi tomorrow to take part in the fast of Bapuji, the release said.