Telangana to become new state

India's home minister has announced that the region of Telangana, in the south-east of the country, is to become the 29th state of India after an 11-day hunger strike of a regional leader. The process is expected to take several years.


AFP - India announced on Thursday that it planned to create the country's 29th state, after a hunger strike by a regional leader and escalating protests from supporters.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram said the government would begin work to found the separate state of Telangana, which will be carved out of Andhra Pradesh in the southeast.

"The process of forming the state of Telangana will be initiated," Chidambaram told reporters.

Since the partition of British-ruled India in 1947, various separatist and state movements have raged across the vast nation.

Three new states were created in 2000, when Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh were divided to give rise to Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand.

Violent separatist insurgencies also cause regular unrest in Kashmir, Assam and Nagaland.

The proposed birth of Telangana, which covers much of Andhra Pradesh's poor tribal belt, follows an 11-day hunger strike by K. Chandrasekhar Rao, chief of the main party campaigning for the new state.

His deteriorating health sparked violent student protests in the region over the past week.

"We are concerned about the health of K. Chandrasekhar Rao. We request him to withdraw his fast immediately. We also appeal to all students to withdraw their agitation to help restore normalcy," Chidambaram said.

In the Andhra Pradesh state capital Hyderabad -- which may become part of Telangana -- Rao expressed thanks from his hospital bed.

A separate Telangana state has been a long-standing demand of many locals who allege government neglect of the drought-prone, deprived region.

But its creation is expected to take years with approval required from both the Andhra Pradesh state assembly and India's national parliament.

Formed in 1956, Andhra Pradesh is India's fifth largest state in terms of territory and sends 42 MPs to India's 543-member parliament.

Agriculture has been the state's economic mainstay but in recent years Hyderabad has emerged as an information-technology hub, earning it the nickname "Cyberabad".

India comprises 28 states and seven federally administered territories, which include the capital region New Delhi.

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