MUST READ: The dirty 'suicide politics' over Telangana
The "trend" started with farmers' suicide in the early 2000s and touched a feverish pitch after the death of then Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy in September 2009.
Since December 2009 it is the Telangana issue around which the bizarre "suicide" saga has been revolving.
Till the recent by-elections to six assembly seats in the region, Telangana protagonists went to town claiming 700 students and youths "sacrificed" their lives for the cause of a separate state.
Barely ten days after the elections, this figure mysteriously swelled to 850.
None of the main parties that are claiming to be fighting for Telangana state has any accurate data to substantiate their claims.
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Image: TRS MLAs in Hyderabad pay tribute to a Telangana activist who committed suicide to press for a separate state.
'Even if we know the facts, we may not be telling them'
"They say 700 and we are going by that number," Telugu Desam Telangana Forum leader Motkupalli Narasumhulu said on Tuesday even as he blamed Telangana Rashtra Samithi chief K Chandrasekhar Rao for the growing number of suicides.
Bharatiya Janata Party state president G Kishan Reddy put the "toll" at 750 while Telangana Rashtra Samiti, a self-styled torch-bearer of the statehood movement, says the number is "800 plus".
Last week in Parliament, while stalling the House on the statehood demand, MPs from Telangana lamented the indifference of the Central government despite suicide by 600 students and youths for a separate state.
But none has a record of all these suicides, whatever be the number, to prove their claims.
For the record, Andhra Pradesh Home Minister P Sabita Indra Reddy informed the legislative council during the just-concluded budget session that 316 persons committed suicide supposedly in the name of Telangana in the last couple of years.
But the government is not ready to confirm that all these deaths were solely for the statehood cause.
"This is a delicate issue. Even if we know the facts, we may not be telling them," a senior minister from Telangana region admitted.
Image: Telangana protestors clash with police during a rally in Hyderabad
'Not all suicide cases can be linked to Telangana'
After a lull between October last and March, the suicide saga began once again with the self-immolation of an MBA student in Warangal ten days ago.
The Telangana protagonists lost no time in projecting it as "yet another sacrifice" for the statehood cause while police investigation established that the student Bhojya Naik ended his life because of "love failure".
"He, no doubt, shouted Jai Telangana before setting himself on fire but the real reason for his extreme step was love failure," a senior police officer said.
Police tracked Naik's cell phone records to establish the reason for his suicide.
Even the suicide by an auto-rickshaw driver Rajamouli two days later in Hanumakonda too was not for Telangana as claimed by the protagonists.
Rajamouli felt "harassed" by the traffic police and wrote a petition to the district superintendent of police listing his travails before ending his life.
"Every case of suicide has a reason....not all cases can be linked to Telangana. But given the sensitivities involved, the claims are not being countered," the minister observed.
Image: A pro-Telangana supporter listens to a speaker during a protest in New Delhi
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
'Relief' to only a handful of suicide victims' families
When the then Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy died in a helicopter crash in September 2009, press notes were issued from the Congress Legislature Party daily listing the number of persons who died either of "shock" or committed suicide unable to bear the "tall leader's" tragic end.
The count stopped somewhere near 400 after people, including senior Congress leaders, started mocking at the deaths.
But families of those 400-odd people are getting some "relief" as YSR's son and Kadapa MP Jaganmohan Reddy is going round the state distributing financial aid (ranging up to Rs 1 lakh each) as part of his Odarpu Yatra.
In contrast, families of the youths who supposedly "sacrificed" their lives for a state are virtually left in the lurch.
"We have given some relief to a few families so far and many more are yet to be given," TRS leader in the assembly E Rajender said.
Congress MPs and MLAs from the region embarked on a relief distribution mission a few months ago and gave up abruptly after extending financial assistance to a handful of families.
Image: YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy greets people as part of his Odarpu Yatra. The Kadapa MP has provided financial help to the families of some of the people who committed suicide following the sudden death of his father YSR Reddy.