“Retaliation is the right thing to do. If only you retaliate the government will fear,” BJP MP Soyam Bapurao remarked.

Beat up forest officials planting saplings Telangana BJP MP urges Adivasis
news Controversy Monday, July 22, 2019 - 18:25

Controversial BJP MP, Soyam Bapurao has stoked a fresh controversy by asking the Adivasis to  assault forest officials and remove the saplings on podu lands planted by them as part of the Haritha Haaram afforestation scheme.

Podu cultivation is a traditional practice of shift agriculture, done primarily by the tribal communities on the hill-slopes in the forest reserve area. While the tribals and non-tribals who have been traditionally cultivating in the forest area claim that the land rightfully belongs to them, the forest department identifies them as ‘encroachers’.

The Adilabad MP speaking at a meeting in memory of Adivasi leader Sidam Shambu on Saturday at Shambu Mathadiguda in Utnoor, said, “If the forest officials intervene, beat them up. I am there if anything happens, you don’t worry. KCR is trying to suppress Adivasis, but don’t fear him. From here on, If anyone plants a sapling, pluck it out. Don’t remain silent, today they took over lands in Kolam-Gondi, tomorrow a similar exercise will happen in all hamlets. Retaliation is the right thing to do. If only you retaliate the government will fear,” he remarked.

On June 16, families belonging to the Kolam tribe were evicted from Kolam-Gondi hamlet and sent along with their belongings to the Vempalli forest depot in Kagaznagar on charges of destruction of forests by podu cultivation. 

Bapurao's comments come weeks after the violent attack on Kagaznagar forest officer, Anitha in June. Anitha was brutally attacked with sticks by a mob allegedly led by Sirpur MLA Koneru Konappa’s brother Koneru Krishna in Sarasala when the officials were planting saplings in the disputed forest land. 

Videos of the incident went viral, and the attack on the helpless forest officer was widely condemned. Union Minister Prakash Javadekar also promptly reacted to the incident and condemned it.

While tthose who attacked the officer have been arrested, tension continues to prevail between the Adivasis and the officials.

Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao who had remained silent during the controversy, spoke about the issue in the Assembly recently and said that the government would organize Praja Darbars and give entitlement rights to podu lands to them, and resolve the crisis for good without further destroying the forest cover.

Read: Encroachers or rightful cultivators? Why there’s unrest among Telangana's forest dwellers

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