In a clear case of apathy, two farmers in Telangana fell at the feet of a Tehisildar, or Mandal Revenue Officer (MRO), pleading with him to do justice, after their land went 'missing' in official records in Chevella, earlier this week.
The incident, which was caught on camera, shows the official walking away, even as the farmers were pleading to him to address their concern, saying that they "can't survive without it (land)."
The issue reportedly took place a week ago, according to official sources. The two farmers were identified as Jangili Sattaiah and his brother Lingaiah. Another farmer, Mallaiah, was also present.
All three of them alleged that their land had been registered and updated in the digital records of the Revenue Department, in someone else's name, without their knowledge. They also alleged that officials were not paying heed to their requests for six months.
They claimed that the officials did not bother to address the issue despite multiple requests, and also alleged that local officials were not only refusing to do the work, but also threatening them.
Two farmers in Chevella in Telangana fell at the feet of a revenue official pleading for justice as the land they owned was reportedly removed from the records. pic.twitter.com/OGBtSKOLotâ€” Sushil Rao (@sushilrTOI) September 1, 2019
As the video went viral, many called for strict action against the accused.
Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) Working President K T Rama Rao also responded to the incident on Twitter, saying, "Individual rights & entitlements should not be at the mercy of any government official/public representative (sic)."
He also requested the Ranga Reddy District Collector to investigate the matter immediately.
"As a permanent solution to land title related issues, Telangana Govt is set to bring in a new Revenue Act soon," he added.
Individual rights & entitlements should not be at the mercy of any Govt official/public representative. Request @collector_RR to investigate the matter immediatelyâ€” KTR (@KTRTRS) September 2, 2019
As a permanent solution to land title related issues, Telangana Govt is set to bring in a new Revenue Act soon https://t.co/fhOhkqZ6PZ
When TNM reached out to Tehisildar S Purushottam, the official in question, seeking an explanation on the video and allegations levelled by the farmers, he claimed that they (farmers) had approached his office a week before the incident.
"Soon after they complained about alleged encroachment and that their land was missing from the records, I and the local Revenue Inspector conducted an inquiry and submitted a report to the Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO), who foresees issues pertaining to entitlement lands."
He added, "Even on that day also, I told them that I will talk and I was seriously pursuing their matter, but they didn't listen."
According to Revenue officials, Sattaiah and Lingaiah's allegation is that their relative, identified as Pothupalli Raju, had sold off their ancestral land, which was a little over 1 acre in size, to others and later registered them on the buyers' name.
Tehisildar Purushottam said, "They were issued ORC (Occupancy Right Certificate) as per the Inams Act, 1955 for 1.3 acres of land. There is another party that is now staking claim to the same land and showing us documents. The RDO is looking into the matter. We have asked all the claimants to come to the Revenue department, where we will verify the titles and documents."
The officer stated that the matter will be resolved soon. TNM has learnt that the District Collector has also sought a report on the matter.