The death of a farmer in Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district has triggered a massive political row, with opposition parties in the state claiming that the farmer died after the police allegedly tortured him for refusing to give up his land for a temporary helipad to be constructed for a visit by Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu.
The deceased has been identified as Pitla Koteshwara Rao, a native of Putlakota village in Yadlapadu mandal. The incident took place on Monday when Naidu visited Kondaveedu Fort for an event celebrating the state’s heritage.
The victim’s family and locals alleged that he died after he was beaten up by the police when he refused to give space in his farm for the CM’s security arrangements.
Political parties indulge in blame game
The incident gained traction after YSRCP chief Jaganmohan Reddy, who is also the Opposition leader in the state’s Legislative Assembly, blamed Naidu for the death of the farmer.
Taking to Twitter to launch an attack on Naidu, Jagan said, “You have killed a BC farmer Kotaiah in Kondaveedu. He was left with his last breath after he was beaten up. To facilitate landing of your helicopter, his papaya crop was destroyed. What is this cruelty when humanity is needed?”
Hitting back, Naidu’s son and Andhra IT Minister Nara Lokesh accused Jagan of indulging in politics regarding a farmer’s death and also lashed out at Sakhi, considered to be a ‘mouthpiece’ of the YSRCP.
“Doesn’t your crook paper know that there is no relation between the farmer’s death and helipad for the CM? It’s proved again that YSRCP is a party that indulges in politics even with people’s deaths. The public will soon answer your death and caste politics,” he tweeted.
Leaders rush to Kondaveedu
While Naidu announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh on the same day as ex-gratia for the family, opposition leaders were not satisfied.
On Wednesday, the YSRCP sent a three-member fact-finding committee led by senior leader and MLC Ummareddy Venkateshwarlu along with Alla Ramakrishna Reddy, K Parthasarathy and Vidudala Rajini, who visited the victim’s family, and demanded justice.
Meanwhile, Jana Sena leader and former state minister Ravela Kishore Babu also met the family and demanded a judicial probe into the ‘suspicious’ death.
“Failure of the government is evident in this incident. The government should take full responsibility. Government should also sanction one acre of farm land and Rs 1 crore monetary benefit, besides a government job for the son of the deceased,” the Jana Sena demanded.
The Andhra Pradesh BJP also chimed in, tweeting, “What is the price for refusing to allow chopper landing of AP CM Chandrababu Naidu in AP? Death! Yes, a farmer was killed by the Naidu govt for refusing to give his field for chopper landing. He was beaten up by the police which caused his death. Naidu, why do you hate farmers so much? (sic).”
BJP state chief Kanna Lakshminarayana even shot off a letter to Union Minister Rajnath Singh demanding a probe into the incident.
Police deny allegations
Meanwhile, Guntur Rural SP SV Rajasekhar Babu on Tuesday refuted allegations of police excess on the farmer and said that he had killed himself by consuming pesticide.
Speaking to TNM, Narasaraopeta DSP Ramavarma said that the specific allegations against police are false. “A high level investigation is taking place. There will be due action once the investigation concludes,” he said.
A case has been registered and investigation is underway based on a complaint by the family.