An activist farmer was beaten to death in Telangana’s Yadadri Bhongir district allegedly for reporting illegal sand mining to police. The victim has been identified as D Pandu, 45, an activist with the Madiga Reservation Porata Samithi. He was on his way back to his village when he was attacked from behind allegedly by two men who held a grudge against him.
B Ravinder, 32, and N Naresh, 33, both drivers by profession, have been arrested and taken into police custody. They were hired at Lingarajupally village to transport sand from the Musi river banks with Revenue Department permission. But after the duo had collected the permitted amount of sand, they had attempted to smuggle out more sand from the river bed last year, police said.
Pandu had alerted Revenue Department officials and made the duo dump the sand back onto the riverbed. "Since then both men had a grudge against Pandu,” said Narayana Reddy, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Bhongir. On the night of January 30, "the two men saw Pandu, about six kilometres away from his village under the Valigonda police station limits and attacked him with logs," the official added.
Brutally injured, Pandu was taken to Gandhi Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries that same night. "They hit him twice on the back of his head," added the officer.
There was a mild protest on the roads and at his village after his death. Pandu is survived by his wife and two children.
About 50 km stretch of the Musi River flows through the Bhongir division, which is dotted with villages. The Valigonda police station, under whose limits Pandu was murdered, has over 62 villages under its jurisdiction but has just 10 to 12 officers stationed to cover the large area. Enforcement of sand mining laws is often limited to what police catch while patrolling or through complaints. Efforts by activists like Pandu often aid police in their work.
"We get at least one complaint of sand mining every three days," says the DCP. "The mining happens at night and many don't raise complaints. Sometimes the villagers are involved and sell it themselves. In a village of 1,000 people, not everyone comes forward.” This is despite having Mythri committees, which are meant for community policing.
"On the main roads we can catch them, but in interior villages, it's difficult to keep track," added Narayana.