Telangana 2018
Kolla Harish doused himself with kerosene and threatened to immolate self while KTR was addressing a gathering as part of TRS’ campaign.

Tension prevailed in Thangallapally, Sircilla, the constituency of KT Rama Rao (KTR), as Kolla Harish, a victim of alleged police torture, attempted to self-immolate on Friday, while KTR was addressing the gathering. According to reports, the incident took place in Thangallapally, Sircilla, while KTR was addressing the gathering as part of Praja Ashivada yatra — TRS’ election campaign. 

Harish carried a bottle of kerosene, poured it on him while threatening to immolate himself. However, the police promptly thwarted his efforts and detained him. Harish is one of the victims in the Nerella incident, who was allegedly subjected to third-degree torture by the police, for resisting illegal sand mining in Nerella.  

Last year, in July, one of the villagers in Nerella, B Bhudaiah, was mowed down by a sand-carrying truck. He was among the many people who were hit by such trucks over the years. Agitated by Bhudaiah's accident, the villagers torched these vehicles. In a move to curtail the violence, the police lathi-charged the villagers, leaving scores injured.

The police later took eight agitators, who happened to be Dalits, into illegal detention, and allegedly subjected them to third-degree torture. As a result, many have been bedridden and are unable to carry out normal tasks.  

Besides physically assaulting the victims, they also allegedly abused them with casteist slurs.

This police harassment snowballed into a major controversy after the Opposition parties protested and demanded a judicial inquiry. Even the National Human Rights Commission intervened and asked the government to take action against the police.

Subsequently, after constituting a committee to probe the allegations, the DIG found the Inspector guilty of using excessive force, following which, the then Sircilla Circle Inspector, B Ravinder, was suspended.

This incident has become an electoral issue in Telangana, with the Opposition party leaders accusing the TRS party of allowing sand mining mafia to take over the state. The People’s Front, particularly TJS president M Kondandram, is using this incident to remind the people about the ‘misrule’ of TRS, at every public gathering.