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Telangana Officer on Plantation Drive Thrashed by Mob; TRS MLA's Brother Among 14 Arrested

TRS working president KT Rama Rao condemned the 'atrocious behaviour' and said no one is above the law of the land.

Rishika Sadam | CNN-News18

Updated:June 30, 2019, 11:36 PM IST

Hyderabad: A woman forest range officer in Telangana’s Sarsala village and her colleagues were attacked allegedly by Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leader Koneru Krishna when the officials were on their way to plant saplings as part of the government's 'Haritha Haram' green initiative programme.

Krishna is the brother of local TRS MLA Koneru Konappa.

According to the Forest Department, the attack was led by Krishna, who is vice chairman of the Zilla Parishad.

A video that went viral on social media showed Forest Range Officer C Anitha standing on top of a tractor while trying to escape from the attack. The villagers, including the TRS leader, are seen attacking her with sticks. Despite multiple requests, the mob continued to thrash her until a few other policemen intervened.

Anitha was seriously injured and immediately shifted to Kaghaznagar for medical treatment and other necessary formalities, said Kaghaznagar Forest Divisional officer.

Superintendent of Police Malla Reddy said Krishna as well as 13 others were arrested and booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Krishna also also tendered his resignation from his post in the Zilla Parishad.

"We have registered cases against Krishna and arrested him. The presence of the leaders emboldened the villagers to attack," he said.

The Forest Divisional Officer had alleged that Krishna and the locals carried out the attack as they had a "malafide intention" to occupy the Reserve Forest land.

The officials had taken up the afforestation programme under the Kaleshwaram Project, a Rs 80,000 crore mega irrigation project in the state. Around 20 hectares of degraded forest land had been selected for compensatory afforestation plantation in the Reserve Forest Blocks of Kadamba under Kaghaznagar range. The officers were present at the location to supervise the plantation drive.

Telangana Principal Chief Conservator of Forest PK Jha said the land where the officials went belonged to the forest department and the MLA was also informed about it. He said the department would take up this issue seriously at a higher level.

"It was forest land. I was given to understand that earlier there were some attempts to encroach it. That time our people got them vacated. It was totally under our control. There is no cultivation. His (MLA's) brother was there (during the attack)," Jha said.

According to the Asifabad Superintendent of Police, there were about 50 policemen and forest officials present at the spot.

Meanwhile, TRS working president KT Rama Rao condemned Krishna's "atrocious behaviour".

Soon after the incident, the opposition slammed the ruling party and demanded stringent action against the local leader.

“The chief minister has not made any statement, nor did the Home minister. The MLA is not seen. Cases have to be booked and prosecuted. The BJP demands an immediate action and an explanation by the chief minister regarding this unacceptable behaviour,” BJP spokesperson Krishnasagar Rao told News18.

"I am asking the Chief Minister, is it Bangaru (golden) Telangana? Is it the protection you provide to women?" Rao asked.

Warangal Range Inspector General Nagi Reddy later said Kaghaznagar DSP Sambaiah and Rural CI Venkatesh have been suspended for dereliction of duty and negligence.

According to sources, TRS supremo K Chandrasekhar Rao has asked officials to provide better treatment to the injured woman official. He has also sought a report from Forest Minister A Indrakaran Reddy on the incident.

Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee chief and Nalgonda MP N Utham Kumar Reddy also expressed displeasure at the incident. "In Telangana, some vested interests are ruling the state in which there is no safety for officials, forget common people," said Reddy. "Did our chief minister see the incident and its intensity, how the ruling party leaders targeted the women officials on duty?"

(With inputs from Venkatesh Hakipmet)

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