Friday, December 11, 2009
The battle for Hyderabad
The decision to split Andhra Pradesh may have caused thousands to celebrate across Hyderabad, but it has made a considerable number of residents of the state capital apprehensive about their future.
While original inhabitants of Telangana region remain unaffected by the developments, it is the 'settlers' (as they are called in Hyderabad) from Rayalseema and Andhra, who are worried.
The future is bleak, believes realtor Sadashiva Reddy, and goes on to explain, "I hail from the Rayalseema belt and have been working in this city since the past two decades. We have always shared a cordial relationship with the people of Telangana region. However, during the recent agitation, we could feel the discontentment among the people of Telangana and they felt that we had deprived them of their right. I will not be surprised if we are asked to leave once Hyderabad is made the capital of Telangana."
Marataza Khan, a taxi driver who originally hails from the old city of Hyderabad, says that people from outside Telangana need not worry. "We have accepted the people of Rayalseema and Andhra and we don't have any intentions of creating problems for them".
But he adds, "Some people from other belts, who have deprived us of our rights and blocked the development of Telangana, will face problems. There are several instances when people from the Rayalseema belt have grabbed land belonging to the people of this region. These people will face problems".
Venaktesh, who runs a small tea stall near the Charminar, hails from Warrangal and fears that he may be forced to go back to his town. "I keep hearing that people from the non-Telangana belt will be asked to move out. I have been living in Hyderabad since the last seven years and it will be unfortunate if I have to leave make a start all over again".
But the issue of Hyderabad becoming a part of Telangana has worried real estate developers the most.
"Hyderabad has grown considerably in the past couple of years. Thanks to the IT boom, the prices of real estate have shot up. Since today orning, I have been flooded with calls regarding the fate of investments in the city. I think it would be in the best interest of the investors if Hyderabad is made a Union Territory and the capital of both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh," says realtor Suman Reddy.
Reddy points out that the issue is not merely a sentimental one; the financial aspect of such a decision also had to be considered.
"I don't see any sort of assurance being given by any of the Telangana leaders to the investors about their safety. This will definitely scare them away," predicts Reddy.
Shabir, an auto drive, wants Hyderabad to remain a part of Andhra Pradesh. "Why should they take it away now? People from across the state have contributed towards making Hyderabad what it is today. The livelihoods of so many, including people from non-Telangana regions, are dependant on this state and they should not be deprived of that," he says.
Dismissing the assurances by Telangana supporters, he says, "It will be another state for us. I think that the idea of having a common capital would be the best thing and it would be in the interest of people from all three regions".
Nalini, who works at a medical store, has a completely different take on the entire issue. She believes that in spite of the Centre's promise, a new Telangana state will never be formed and the issue will die down soon.
"If Hyderabad is taken away from Andhra, I will move out. I will prefer to live in my own state, where I have equal rights and am not looked upon as an outsider," she explains.
The Muslim community in the old city, which has been openly supporting the demand for a separate Telangana, stress that Hyderabad should be made the capital of the new state.
"We are ready to continue with our protests until our dream is achieved. But there is no reason for the businessmen to worry; we have no intentions of chasing them out of the state. There is no need for anyone to leave Hyderabad at least," says Lateed Mohammad Khan, who has been leading the minority community over this issue.
Khan claims that the government had dithered so long over granting permission for a separate state due to immense pressure from the land mafia. "Some elements of the land mafia have even demanded Rs 2 lakh crore compensation from the government, fearing that they will have to move out of Hyderabad now," he says.