Saturday, June 15, 2013

Strike Up the Bandh

Bandh: originally a Hindi word meaning "closed", is a form of protest used by political activists in South Asian countries such as India and Nepal. During a bandh, a political party or a community declares a general strike (Wikipedia).

The rumbles of a Telangana bandh for Friday or Saturday started rolling around school on Thursday afternoon.  We checked on the news from other schools but ultimately decided to stay open for Friday.  A few families kept kids home but most students showed up.  We had our international finance person in town so decided to continue with our meeting with a school board member to discuss plans for the future building.  The drive to Secunderabad had the standard slow traffic for Hyderabad rush hour (10:00 am) and we saw a lot of police presence but nothing surprising.

As the meeting went on my phone started to buzz over and over.  Things had heated up near the Andhra Pradesh legislature building and they had decided to close school.  We quickly headed to the car.  We slowly made it back to school.  Traffic had gotten even worse.  We spent about 30 minutes in very slow traffic getting a few strange looks from the cars and motorcycles around us as we made it through a stretch to an intersection to find that the only option was a U-turn.  I suggested to our driver David that we U-turn back and try again.  He chuckled. Then he found another route.  Once back to Banjara and Jubilee Hills traffic lightened up.  There was still a lot of police around and the riots did indeed get a little crazy at the state legislature building with protesters climbing up the building and threatening to jump if a Telangana state wasn't established on the spot.  
A massive security arrangement was made for the 'Chalo Assembly' protest march organised to press for the creation of a separate Telangana state. It also caused inconvenience to the public who could not move freely in the city.
I didn't see this exact barrier but did pass a few on the way back to school.

The conflict highlights the great diversity here in Hyderabad where we have a large population of Hindus and Muslims and the city is split between the Hindu and Telugu speakers.  The Telengana activists want to partition Telengana, Hyderabad and it's immediate surrounding, into its own state.  This would leave some major challenges for the rest of Andhra Pradesh which is significantly less well developed.

For us, it mostly meant an early dismissal on Friday and a quiet evening at home.  Our Indian version of an early dismissal snow day. 

For the full story of the bandh you can visit the link here:

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