A Dalit farmer took his own life in Veluru, Wargal in Gajwel municipality of Telangana following alleged land grabbing by local revenue authorities and the Sarpanch. The issue snowballed into a controversy as the farmer Byagari Narsimhulu recorded a voice note and a selfie before taking his life, accusing officials of attempting to take over 13 guntas of land owned by the farmer to build a Rythu Vedika in the village.a
The farmer was taken to hospital in Siddipet district where he was declared dead. According to reports, the victim who originally had one acre and 13 guntas of land, had sold one acre and was cultivating on the remaining piece of land for a long time.
As the assigned land was not in his name and had been inherited from his father, the farmer tried to transfer the land to his name. However, the farmer claimed that the village Sarpanch, Village Revenue Officer (VRO) and Mandal Revenue Officer (MRO) created hurdles and did not let him claim his land.
The voice note and photos are being examined by the police. Dalit Bahujan Front (DBF) Secretary Shankar P alleged that the farmer was forced to take his own life. Shankar said, "He urged the VRO, MRO to re-enter his land in revenue records multiple times. While ignoring his requests, they have forcibly tried to encroach his land for constructing the Rythu Vedika building. All three persons responsible should be booked under SC/ST PoA (Prevention of Atrocities) Act."
The Telangana government is setting up Rythu Vedika buildings across villages to develop them as platforms for farmers.
He further demanded that the farmerâ€™s family should be given compensation along with three acres of land. With the incident taking place in the constituency represented by CM K Chandrasekhar Rao, the issue has triggered outrage.
Village Dalits staged protests in front of the Sarpanch demanding action against him and officials for harassing farmers. Local police authorities have deployed additional forces to control the situation.
According to a senior police official, the parcel of assigned land (assigned by the government to landless poor) was acquired by the government in February, 2014, citing violations of the assignment as he had sold the land. Subsequently, an electricity sub-station was built in a portion of the land and new construction activity was being planned which the farmer had opposed, apparently seeking some kind of compensation.
Meanwhile, opposition parties Congress and BJP have come down heavily on the government alleging that it has become anti-Dalit. Congress demanded that a case under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act be registered against those responsible for the death of the man. TPCC (Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee) chief Uttam Kumar Reddy alleged that attacks on Dalits have increased ever since the TRS government came to power.
BJP's state unit president Bandi Sanjay Kumar has appointed a fact-finding committee of party leaders to look into the issue. The party, in a release, claimed its leaders were taken into custody when they were proceeding to meet the family members of the deceased.
However, State Finance Minister T Harish Rao said that the opposition is using an unfortunate death for politics. While announcing that the government would help his family in every possible way, he said an inquiry would be held to ascertain who was responsible for the farmerâ€™s death.
According to Telangana Today, Minister Harish Rao said the government will allot one acre of land besides granting Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia to the bereaved family.
Harish Rao accused the opposition of trying to gain mileage without knowing the facts. He claimed that the land in question was taken possession of by government officials in 2014 when the Congress was in power.