(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
June 12, 2011
Tribal Leaders Jailed Illegally
Protests in Khammam Demanding Release
THE Congress state government of Andhra Pradesh has thrown the tribal leaders of Khammam district into jail for the last six months for the crime of fighting for the interests of poor tribals.
Bhukya Veerabhadram, district secretary of AP Girijana Sangham, along with Bhukya Ramlal and Kunchapu Srinu, district level leaders of the tribal organisation were arrested under the Preventive Detention Act in a case pertaining to confiscation of the forest agricultural lands (i.e. under the podu agriculture, where in the forest is cleared at some places for cultivation) in the district of Khammam.
The tribal leaders illegal detention in the Cherlapalli central jail for the last six months was protested by organising road blockades across Khammam district on 6 June under the leadership of the CPI(M). Hundreds of protestors laid siege to the Khammam District Forest Office demanding immediate release of these tribal leaders and the scrapping of the cases filed against them.
A rally with hundreds of protestors was organised on the streets of the Khammam town on the same day. Police had raised barricades before hand in view of the rally and large number of forces were mobilised. When the repeated pleas of the protestors for the DFO to come out of office and give clarification pertaining to the arrests of the tribal leaders were not heeded, the protestors tried to rush into the DFO office by pushing aside the barricades. When the police tried to obstruct the protestors from entering the DFO office, mild tension prevailed around with the police using force to prevent the protestors. Vishnu, district leader of CITU, fainted under the impact of the injuries caused during the scuffle.
Later on, the in-charge DFO Satyannarayana came before the protestors, after the persuasion from the DSP Pratap Reddy.Then the CPI(M) leaders questioned Satyannarayana as to the status of the order paper pertaining to the release of the tribal leaders that reached the DFO from the office of the chief minister. Satyannarayana replied that a ground level study is required before anything can be done about the orders from the CM office. The CPI(M) leaders pulled up the DFO for not finding time for such a ‘study’ over the last six months. Under intense pressure from the leaders of the CPI(M), the DFO finally agreed to complete the process of ground level study within ten days after discussing with the concerned officials, and thus facilitate the process of the release of the jailed tribal leaders. After this promise from the incharge DFO, the agitation was withdrawn. Buggaveeti Sarala, CPI(M) Andhra Pradesh state committee member, Nunna Nageswara Rao, Maccha Venkateswarlu, A J Ramesh, Yerra Srikant, CPI(M) Khammam district secretariat members and the family members of Bhukya Veerabhadram participated in this agitation.
P Sudarshan Rao, Khammam district secretary of CPI(M), condemned the illegal arrests under the PD Act and the consequent prolonged detention of the tribal leaders. He termed this as a part of the attempt by the Congress government to suppress the mass movements.
Addressing the gathering of protestors, he asked them to be prepared for another phase of intensified agitation after ten days if the DFO does not comply with the demand for release of the arrested leaders. He criticised that no cases under the PD Act were filed against those who were involved in the three murder cases recently in the heart of Khammam town and as well as against the smugglers who are illegitimately plundering the forest wealth. He pointed out that illegal cases are being filed against those who were fighting for the resolution of the issues of the masses.
Vijaya, wife of Bhukya Veerabhadram, condemned the government’s illegal action of sending her husband to the jail for fighting upon the issues of the people. She participated in the siege of the DFO office along with her family members. She challenged the government to send the smugglers who were earning hundreds of crores of rupees by illegally looting forest wealth to jail. Thanking the Party and people for supporting her during this tough time for her family of two children because of the arrest of her husband, she warned the government against trying to suppress the agitations through such illegal methods.