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Fights, protests over poor quality spoil Telangana government's free saree scheme

By Deepika

The Telangana government's free saree scheme for women below the poverty line, backfired on Monday, with the women complaining about the quality of the garments.

Women burn saris after a clash between two groups over the shortage of stock

The shocking videos of the mass brawl that broke out on Monday showed a group of women screaming at each other and coming to blows, pushing, pulling, and slapping each other at a PDS centre in Telangana's Saidabad.

The gifting of free sarees were announced by Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao on Independence Day for the festival of Bathukamma that is celebrated during Navratri.

The state government was distributing 1 crore Handloom sarees to mark Bathukamma festivities in Telangana from September 18-20. Sarees in 500 designs were chosen by senior bureaucrats for the Bathukamma festival, as a strategy to woo the weavers and women voters.

In Jagtial district women took to the streets, burned the sarees and played Bathukamma. Similar protests were reported at Bhongir, Nalgonda as well.

Also, instances of women rejecting the sarees at the fair price shop counters, burning them on the roads, cleaning vehicles with the gifted sarees and throwing them into dustbins have been reported from different parts of Telangana.

Meanwhile the opposition parties said tha scheme was a big flop."It is a big flop. The government has failed to ensure quality of sarees. It has humiliated women folk," Pradesh Congress Committee chief Capt N Uttam Kumar Reddy said.

However, the ruling party justified the scheme by saying, distributing sarees a noble cause. "The scheme was introduced with a noble objective. Let us not politicise it for petty gains,"

Announcing the scheme, Chief Minister KCR had earlier said,"The plight of workers dependent on handloom and power loom sectors is pathetic.

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