People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
February 04, 2007
Police Firing On Polavaram Agitators
People protesting the police firing
M Venugopala Rao
THE police resorted to lathicharge, used teargas shells and fired at the agitators in Bhadrachalam of Khammam district. They were demanding the government to stop survey works of Polavaram project, withdraw cases against the people in connection with the movement of the oustees under the proposed project and give pattas to the tribal people on lands they had been cultivating. In the police firing, four people were injured severely and the condition of two of them is serious. The CPI(M) had given a call for laying siege to the offices of mandal revenue officers which come under the submersion area of the Polavaram project, putting forth the above demands. As a part of this struggle, the oustees under the Polavaram project took out a procession in Bhadrachalam on January 29 to submit a memorandum to the sub collector. The police, who were deployed on a large scale to foil the agitation obstructed the people at several places and refused permission to hold dharna and meet the sub collector. Imposing prohibitory orders, the police resorted to indiscriminate lathicharge on the agitators, both men and women who were sitting on the road, used tear gas shells, fired into the air and started arresting them. Protesting the police repression, thousands of oustees reached Bridge centre and held rasta roko. Here, again, the police resorted to lathicharge without any warning and under the direction of the additional superintendent of police, Ramesh Babu, the police resorted to firing for about 20 minutes. Kunja Narsayya of Madhavaraopet sustained bullet injuries in the left knee and Madakam Narayana, Macha Pullayya and Srinivasachary sustained severe injuries. Several people sustained injuries in the lathicharge. The police arrested the CPI(M) MP Dr Midiam Babu Rao, Bhadrachalm division secretary of the Party Bandaru Ravikumar, ZPTC member G Sarath and several other leaders of the Party along with the people who were evacuated under the Polavaram project and registered cases against them.
Under the direction of the state government, the police resorted to repressive measures on this movement from the beginning. In several mandals, the police registered cases against the workers of the CPI(M) and the oustees. CPI(M) MLA from Madhira constituency, Katta Venkatanarsaiah reached Bhadrachalam and met the injured and the agitators. Thammineni Veerabhadram, Central Committee member of the CPI(M) and MLA of Khammam constituency, strongly condemned the police firing and lathicharge, calling it as a cruel act of the government.
The state committee of the CPI(M) strongly condemned the police firing on the people agitating peacefully. In a statement, B.V. Raghavulu, state secretary of the CPI(M), called upon the people to come together to fight against the autocratic and repressive attitude of the state government towards the movements of the people in the state. Raghavulu explained that the police resorted to lathicharge and firing in Bhadrachalam so as not to invite the indignation of the chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy who was angry with the them for showing restraint and acting in a peaceful manner when the people had laid siege to the collectorate just two days back, demanding the government to take up works of Dummugudem project. The way the police had arrested the leaders first and then resorted to indiscriminate lathicharge and firing showed that they had acted in this pre-planned manner deliberately, Raghavulu said.
Khammam district secretaries of the CPI(ML) P Ranga Rao, of the CPI, K Sambasiva Rao, and of the Telugu Desam Party, Tummala Nageswara Rao, and TRS leader E Haribabu strongly condemned the police brutality. President of the TDP, N Chandrababu Naidu demanded the government to order a judicial enquiry into the police lathicharge and firing. President of All India Agricultural Workers’ Union, Paturu Ramayya, state committees of SFI and DYFI, A P Agricultural Workers’ Union, A P Washermen’s Union, A P Rythu Sangham and Project Oustees’ Union condemned the police brutality and demanded the government to order an enquiry and take action against those who were responsible for the repressive measures. The district collector ordered an enquiry on the police firing.
On the call given by the Khammam district committee of the CPI(M) and supported by the TDP, BJP, TRS and CPI(ML) New Democracy, bandh was observed successfully in the district on January 30, protesting against the police lathicharge and firing on the agitators in Bhadrachalam. The bandh was marked by protest rallies and dharnas. The police arrested CPI(M) MLA Sunnam Rajayya and hundreds of CPI(M) workers in connection with the bandh. Attempt to murder cases were booked on 24 activists.