Mild tension prevailed on the outskirts of Vijayawada in Kotturu Tadepalli, when the Vijayawada Rural Tahsildar called for a meeting with the local farmers to discuss land acquisition for house sites for the poor. The Andhra Pradesh government is carrying out land acquisition across the state in order to provide house sites for the poor under the housing scheme called ‘YSR Pedalandariki Illu’ scheme. The YSRCP government has promised that the house sites will be distributed on Ugadi (March 25).
According to Vijayawada II Town Inspector of Police Md Umar, Vijayawada Rural Mandal Revenue Officer (MRO) Vanajakshi had called local farmers for a meeting near the panchayat office in Kotturu Tadepalli. Umar said that some of the farmers raised objections, refusing to part with their land. A few others demanded fair compensation under the 2013 Land Acquisition Act. (Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013).
As the farmers began to raise slogans, MRO Vanajakshi reportedly said that only farmers can stay at the meeting, and ‘real estate brokers’ must leave. “The farmers were offended by her statement and demanded an apology. When she tried to leave without apologising, they surrounded her and refused to let her leave,” Inspector Umar said.
MRO Vanajakshi has alleged that some of the farmers behaved harshly with her and abused her. A complaint has been registered against nearly 25 farmers, with Vanajakshi alleging that they had pulled her by her sari and her hair, and had verbally abused her. A case has been registered against around 25 farmers under section 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the Indian Penal Code.
Police said that while the group consisted of different kinds of farmers and farmer activists, a large number of them were likely to have been dependent on ‘assigned lands’. Assigned lands are government lands given to poor, landless farmers as a source of livelihood. In the process of acquiring land for the housing scheme, ‘assigned’ and ‘encroached’ lands are also being acquired in other parts of the state.