Four veterinary doctors in Wanaparthy received a peculiar Whatsapp request from district collector Sweta Mohanty two days ago, as the transport strike in Telangana entered its second week. They were instructed to report at the local Road Transport Corporation depot every morning from Tuesday to perform supervisory work in the absence of regular staffers.
The order was later withdrawn, after the veterinary doctors - Dr Shyam, Dr Madhavi, Dr Nikhil Reddy and Dr Vijay Kumar - complained that they were not familiar with road transportation work. Pointing out that 10 out of 19 veterinarian positions in the district are vacant, the four also claimed that they were too busy with their regular commitments to make time for tasks that don't even fit their job profile.
The district collector had initially refused to entertain their request for exemption.
With over 48,000 employees of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) on strike since October 5, the authorities are having hard time preventing a collapse in bus services across the state. The agitating workers' demands include the merger of the TSRTC with the government and filling up of vacancies.
Two transport employees have allegedly committed suicide over the last few days, spurring criticism from opposition parties. BJP MLA Thakur Raja Singh Lodh even claimed recently that Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has turned into a "Hitler" with little regard for the people.
Mr Rao has taken a tough stand on the matter, dubbing the agitation as an "unpardonable crime" and sacking the striking workers after they refused to adhere to a government deadline ending October 5. "The government will not succumb to indiscipline and blackmailing tactics of employees' unions," he said then, claiming that they had "cut the very branch they were sitting on".