In their last bid to expose alleged irregularities in the selection of beneficiaries for the land to landless Dalits scheme, two Dalit men of Gudem village in Bejjanki mandal of Siddipet district attempted suicide before the camp office of the ruling TRS party MLA Rasamayi Balakishan. The youths Mahankali Srinivas and Yalala Parushram, both aged 26, doused themselves in petrol and set themselves ablaze at Alugunur in Manakondur mandal on Sunday after a series of events that began with the demand for a 20,000 rupee bribe.
Dalit villagers from Gudem, who were with them, put out the fire and they were taken to the Government Civil Hospital in Karimnagar. The incident occurred after nearly 60 villagers had reportedly waited outside the MLA’s office from close to 10 in the morning hoping to speak to him, also a Dalit, about the land for Dalits scheme.
“We were waiting and when we called the MLA, he spoke to us rudely,’’ they alleged. At 3.30 pm, the villagers reportedly received a call from the MLA informing them that he would not be visiting the office and asking them to leave. “We were chided for coming to the office and waiting for him,’’ the villagers alleged. It is after this that the two youths set themselves ablaze.
Hearing of the incident Finance minister Etela Rajender, who was participating in Ganesh idol immersion in Karimnagar, rushed to the hospital where he was gheraoed by villagers. Hospital superintendent L Suhashinee said Srinivas was suffering from 60 per cent burns and Parushuram from 40 percent burns.
They had been referred to Osmania General Hospital in Hyderabad for better treatment. However, the situation turned tense when Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee Scheduled Caste cell chairman Arepalli Mohan objected to the shifting men without taking their declaration and Karimnagar MLA Gangula Kamalakar started arguing with him. Doctors pacified both leaders and said the duo were shifted on the directions of the Commissioner of Police VB Kamalasan Reddy. Rajender told the media that the government would bear the expenses for their treatment and action would be taken against those officials who had failed to respond to applications from beneficiaries.
Mahankali Sampath, a close relative of the victims, who was on the spot, said that for the past three days the villagers had been running pillar to post requesting that land be allocated to eligible beneficiaries. He alleged that of the 34 beneficiaries of the scheme in the village, six persons had been allocated land despite being ineligible for the scheme.
Parushram’s brother Laxman alleged that key elected representatives had taken bribes to allocate land, adding that no Grama Sabhas had been held to identify beneficiaries. Ankala Ananthavva, also a relative of one of the victims, demanded that the MLA should be held responsibility and resign.
It was also alleged that revenue officials had demanded money from the duo to get the land allocated. Siddipet Collector P Venkatram Reddy suspended Kallepalli Village Revenue Officer Ravi based on preliminary reports and appointed Joint Collector Padmakar as enquiry officer to probe the allocation of land under the scheme in Gudem village.
With inputs from agencies.