A Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) driver, who attempted self-immolation on Saturday, succumbed to his injuries at the hospital here on Sunday, triggering protests by striking employees and opposition parties.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao remains firm on his government’s stand on the issue. Rao has ordered Director-General of Police Mahender Reddy to arrest anybody who tries to disrupt bus services. Bus depots are to be deployed with additional CCTV cameras and personnels. The Chief Minister has rejected all the demands of the striking employees including the main demand for merger of TSRTC with the government. He also ruled out talks with them.

Srinivas Reddy, who set himself on fire in Khammam town on Saturday and sustained critical injuries, died at the Apollo DRDO Hospital in Hyderabad, where he was admitted. Doctors at the hospital said that he had suffered over 90 per cent burns and didn’t respond to treatment.

The driver had resorted to the extreme step during a protest by TSRTC employees, whose indefinite strike entered the ninth day on Sunday.
Employee unions alleged that Reddy was depressed over losing his job as Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has announced that over 48,000 employees dismissed themselves by not joining duty before deadline set by the state government. He has ruled out taking back these employees into TSRTC.

The driver’s death triggered tension near hospital in Kanchanbagh area as leaders of TSRTC employee unions and opposition parties reached there and staged a protest against the government, blaming it for the employee’s death.

With the protests taking a political turn, many protests have been planned over the next week. TSRTC employees unions on Saturday decided to further intensify the strike.

On Sunday ‘vanta varpu’ (roadside cooking) will take place. On Monday central trade unions will protest at Dharna Chowk in Hyderabad, protests outside bus depots are also organized.

On Tuesday protesters will form a human chain and block traffic, with a student union protest rally and a bike rally also planned.

A state- wide bandh too have been called by the employees’ Joint Action committee (JAC) on October 19.

Earlier, the Telangana High Court had, on Thursday, posted to October 15 the hearing of a petition that sought to declare the strike as illegal. The government had also submitted before the court a report informing it about the alternative arrangements having been taken.

(With inputs from IANS and PTI)