A Forest Range Officer in Telangana was ruthlessly attacked by a mob on Sunday as she was discharging her duties. The incident took place as the Forest Department was attempting to take up an afforestation programme in Kaghaznagar, as a part of the Kaleshwaram Irrigation Project.
Officials said that the mob was led by Koneru Krishna, a Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leader who is also the brother of sitting Sirpur MLA Koneru Konappa.
A video of the incident shows a huge mob of locals, armed with sticks, repeatedly attacking vehicles as the officer, identified as Anitha, stood atop a tractor and attempted to pacify the mob.
Despite her requests, the mob refuses to back down and is even seen on camera hitting her repeatedly with large sticks, until other police personnel step in and push the crowd back.
Even as she is lowered from the tractor, she cries out in pain, but the mob continues attacking the vehicles gathered at the spot.
Watch the video below.
A Forest Range Officer in Telangana was ruthlessly attacked by a mob as officials were attempting to take up an afforestation programme in Kaghaznagar. Officials said that the mob was led by Koneru Krishna, brother of TRS MLA Koneru Konappa @thenewsminute pic.twitter.com/SIcFCwdQsm‚ÄĒ Nitin Bhaskaran (@NitinBGoode) June 30, 2019
In a press note, the Forest Divisional Officer of Kaghaznagar said that around 20 hectares of degraded forest land had been selected for compensatory afforestation plantation in the Reserve Forest Blocks of Kadamba under Kaghaznagar range.
However, when officials along with the police reached the spot to carry out the ploughing work, they were attacked by a large mob.
‚ÄúFew villagers of Sarsala arrived and started using filthy language and also attacked Ch Anitha, Forest Range Officer Kaghaznagar, led by Koneru Krishna, Vice Chairman Zilla Parishad (sic),‚ÄĚ the press note stated.
‚ÄúDue to the attack by Koneru Krishna and the mob of locals, she was injured seriously and immediately shifted to Kaghaznagar for medical treatment and other necessary formalities,‚ÄĚ the note added.
The Forest Divisional Officer also alleged that the MLA‚Äôs brother and the locals carried out the attack as they had a ‚Äėmalafide intention‚Äô to occupy the Reserve Forest land.
MLA claims brother is ‚Äėinnocent‚Äô
Speaking to TNM, Koneru Konappa claimed that his brother was not involved in the attack and had only gone to the spot to pacify locals. He said that the attack on Anitha was the result of a confrontation between locals and officials.
‚ÄúWhat the Forest Department is saying is wrong. The department officials tried to uproot crops on land that was being cultivated by locals for the past 30 to 40 years. When the locals went to protest, the police lathicharged them. Only then did my brother go to the spot, to try and resolve the issue,‚ÄĚ he claimed.
‚ÄúAt the spot, one of the people driving the tractors was a Congress worker. His name is Tirupati and he does not even stay in the village. My brother only charged at him with a stick asking what he was doing there, and nothing else. The issue is between the public and the officials,‚ÄĚ he added.
Opposition parties lash out
Meanwhile, the BJP and the Congress condemned the incident and lashed out at the TRS.
‚ÄúBJP strongly condemns the heinous attack on the woman forest range officer. Around 30 to 40 goons of the TRS attacked this officer and her team. She has been badly injured and is in the hospital now,‚ÄĚ Krishna Saagar Rao, Chief Spokesperson, BJP Telangana said.
‚ÄúThe Chief Minister is sleeping in his farmhouse as always and has not come out with any statement, neither has the Home Minister. The MLA and his brother need to be booked and prosecuted for this heinous attack. The BJP demands immediate action and an explanation by the CM on this unacceptable behaviour by an MLA and his brother. We extend our support to the lady officer,‚ÄĚ he added.
In a statement, Sirpur-Kagazhnagar Congress in-charge Harish said, ‚ÄúWe condemn the incident and demand action against both the MLA and his brother as they instigated the attack by the mob. Koneru Krishna must be suspended from the TRS.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThe TRS should apologise and ensure that strict action is taken against the accused in the case,‚ÄĚ he added.
Meanwhile, the Collector and Superintendent of Police of Asifabad district were also informed of the incident and permission was sought by the Forest Department to beef up security and continue with the plantation work.