Kagaznagar Forest Range Officer (FRO) Anitha, who recently made headlines after she was assaulted by the brother of a TRS MLA and his supporters at Sarsala in Kagaznagar while she was carrying out an afforestation program, has been selected for the KVS Babu IFS Memorial Gold Medal and a citation in ‘recognition of her outstanding services’ to the Forest Department.
The KVS Babu IFS Memorial Gold Medal is awarded by the forest department every year to a forest official who performed their duties exceptionally well. Along with the medal, a cash award of Rs 15,000 and a citation will be also presented. Anitha will be conferred with the award during the Forest Department’s Independence Day celebrations at Telangana Forest Academy in Dhulapally.
“Yes, it is recognition for her unstinting service in protection of forest and saving the environment,” Kagaznagar Forest Divisional Officer (FDO) M Raja Ramana Reddy, who had nominated her for the award, told The Hindu. “There is a need for recognition of her efforts so that she becomes a role model for others in protecting the precious environment,” he added.
On June 30, Anitha was beaten up by a mob armed with sticks who were attempting to stall an afforestation drive. In a video that had gone viral, Anitha, who was on a tractor, was seen thrashed with sticks by the mob, following which she had to be rushed to the hospital.
TRS leader Koneru Krishna, the brother of Sirpur MLA Koneru Konappa, was arrested for leading the mob.
However, the assault on Anitha brought to the fore, a larger battle being fought between forest dwellers and the state government. While the Forest Department claimed that the locals were 'encroachers' and had carried out the attack to occupy Reserve Forest land, the locals claimed that they have been cultivating the land for decades and they had riparian rights over it.
A case under sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was also registered against Anitha, following the incident, as locals alleged that she had assaulted them and abused them using their 'caste' name. The Supreme Court later stayed the case and has sought a report from the Telangana government