Facing demands for a bribe from a Village Revenue Officer, two Dalit men set themselves on fire on Sunday, outside Telangana Rashtra Samithi leader R Balakishan’s office in Manakoduru, Karimnagar on Sunday.
M Srinivas (27) and Y Parashuramulu (26), the victims, are farmers hailing from Gudani village in Bejjanki mandal, about 160km from Karimnagar.
According to reports, the two men had gone to the VROs office to claim three acres of land under a government scheme providing land for Dalit farmers. However, the VRO allegedly demanded a bribe of Rs 20,000 to carry out the sanctioning process.
Outraged by the demand, Srinivas and Parashuramulu, accompanied by a few village residents, went to complain to the local TRS leader Balakishan. However, there they were made to wait endlessly for Balakishan, and were told after five hours that he would not meet them.
"We waited from 10am to 3.30pm. Then we were asked to leave without a meeting," one of the men who went along with the duo, told NDTV .
Dejected and angry, Srinivas and Parashuramulu immolated themselves. They suffered 40% burns and are being treated at the Yashoda hospital in Secunderabad.
State Finance Minister Etela Rajender visited the hospital and announced that the government will initiate an investigation into the incident.
He added that disciplinary action will be taken against the Village Revenue Officer, if found guilty, Times of India reported.
Telangana Congress chief, N Uttam Kumar Reddy, T Jeevan and other leaders also visited the hospital to enquire into the victims’ condition.