Telangana Municipal Administration and Urban Development Minister KT Rama Rao on Tuesday met with victims of alleged police torture in Nerella, and promised them that action would be taken against any official found guilty.
The Dalits, who had been lodged in Karimnagar district jail, were released on bail earlier, and were undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Vemulawada in the state's Rajanna Siricilla district.
KTR is also the legislator who represents the Siricilla constituency in the Telangana Assembly.
The Times of India reported that KTR visited the hospital, met the victims and directed officials to provide better medical facilities to them. He said an inquiry by a DIG has been ordered.
He also criticised the Opposition parties in the state, of using the incident as a political opportunity.
The entire controversy began after a sand lorry hit and killed B Bhudaiah of Nerella village on July 2. This death, had sparked massive anger, as this was the fourth such death from nearby villages.
After the incident, police detained eight villagers (Dalits) from Nerella of Rajanna-Siricilla district for allegedly torching a sand-laden truck.
The victims were then allegedly subjected to third-degree torture, and also claimed to be verbally abused with casteist slurs.
“I am a local man and they are my people. Today, they asked me what sin they had committed in preventing sand smuggling. Whatever happened to them is unfortunate. Those who are coming to them are visitors they don’t carry any weight here,” KTR was quoted as saying.
Responding to allegations of illegal sand mining in the area, KTR said, "It is not sand mafia or illegal transportation of sand from the river. We have taken up removal of sand from Manair river as the government is eager to complete the Mid Manair reservoir to store about 10 tmc ft of water. If we store water, we cannot remove sand, besides, it is bringing revenue to the government."
Last week, former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar called on the victims of the alleged police torture at the jail itself.
Later, she told the media that they were allowed to meet only four victims, although three others were lodged in the same jail. She said another critically injured victim was still in hospital.
Condemning the atrocities on the Dalits, she said the police beat up the youth and tortured them with electric shocks.
"They broke down while narrating the police brutality. They have also sustained internal injuries," she said.
The Congress leader demanded that "false cases" booked against the victims should be withdrawn and those involved in torturing them should be booked under the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
Last month, National SC/ST Commission member Ramulu visited the village later, and demanded the transfer of Rajanna Siricilla Superintendent of Police, SP Vishwajit and suspension of the Circle Inspector over the incident.
Ramulu demanded a job, ex-gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh and three-acre land for each of the victims.