“It is only a minor relief for me. I will get justice only when I get fair compensation for my land,” says Baddam Shankar Reddy, a resident of Gudatipally village in Siddipet district. Earlier this month, Shankar got an interim stay order from the Telangana High Court, against what he alleged was “illegal and arbitrary” action against him by the Akkanapet police. Shankar, who has been at the forefront of the agitation against the state government’s land acquisition for the Gouravelli reservoir, was booked by the police under section 107 (security for keeping the peace in other cases) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
The police invoked a bind-over case against him on December 9, 2022. Shankar was previously booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for rioting, assault, deterring a public servant from discharging his duty as well as obscenity in a public place. “By filing a fake case against me, they have been harassing me and coercing me into giving up my land,” Shankar told TNM. A farmer, Shankar, who owns 11 acres of land is being offered Rs 15 lakh per acre under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Act, 2013. According to him, each acre should fetch at least Rs 30 lakh. “How is that fair? The entire village has been protesting against this. To clampdown on this agitation, they have targeted a few of us who have been vocal,” he alleges.
The Gouravelli reservoir was proposed by the then Congress government under Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy. The reservoir was built in Husnabad mandal in Siddipet. While the capacity of the reservoir was initially determined to be 1.4 tmc (thousand million cubic feet), it was increased to 8.23 tmc by the Bharat Rashtra Samithi, the current ruling party. This required the government to acquire 1,967.18 acres of land. The project will result in the submergence of six villages, and the number of Project Displaced Families (PDFs) will increase from 937 to 1,104.
The residents of Gudatipally held a protest last year in front of the local MLA V Satish Kumar’s office that led to a confrontation between them and the BRS cadre. Four villagers from Gudatipally including Shankar were arrested after their protest turned violent. In the incident, a few police personnel were injured.
On June 12, 2022, the police raided Gudatipally village and allegedly assaulted at least 30 residents and arrested them.
Read TNM’s ground report on this incident.
The show cause notice issued to Shankar by the Akkanapet police says that he was a habitual offender involved in the breach of peace in their jurisdiction. “I am glad that the High Court has intervened against police harassment. Our village is still united, and we will fight for our rightful compensation,” Shankar says.