Hyderabad: Chole Anitha, the Asifabad forest range officer who was attacked by Krishna Konappa, the brother of a TRS MLA, and his henchmen on Sunday, is afraid to return to duty. She says her life is under threat and has requested police protection. “I am a public servant and I was just doing my duty. It is for the government and TRS party to take action against the MLA. This attack was not on me but on the uniform,” she said.
Ms Anitha was targeted and brutally beaten with sticks by Krishna Konappa, who is a former Zilla Parishad chairman. The attack took place under the nose of the police in Kotha-Sarasala village, in Kagaznagar Range, on June 30.
Forest staff was planting saplings as part of the Haritha Haram in the reserve forest where local inhabitants have cultivated land illegally.
The officer has suffered musculoskeletal injuries and was moved to Hyderabad. She told this newspaper that four days prior to the plantation drive, she had held a meeting with the villagers.
“It was clearly explained to them that the land belongs to reserve forest and the department has been directed by the Telangana Chief Minister to take up forestation work. On Sunday, even before the personnel reached the spot, a sizable number of villagers were present in protest. We detained them in jeeps and before they could be shifted out, the MLA’s brother arrived. The goons pushed the police personnel aside and began attacking us. I climbed onto the tractor. Even before I could verbally stop them, the first strike came on my head. I used my hands to protect my face. The strikes continued. I lost count. I was severely hurt on my wrist and minor injuries on my elbow.”
She said “It’s a fact that the local MLA and his brother are goons; the entire village knows this. They provoke public against officials be it forest or police. They beats up whoever obstructs them, even the district police are afraid of them. Year after year with the help of locals they have amassed chunks of land through encroachments. A few months ago forest officers were threatened and beaten up while trying to retrieve the grabbed land. They even forcibly pick up officers from the site and confine them.” She had sought permission from the local police and district protection force prior to the plantation drive. Around 30 police personnel were deployed on the day of the attack, but video evidence shows the police did very little to guard the forest officers against the MLA’s brother and henchmen.
“Survey number 133, 134 in Sarsala village of Kaghaznagar range is reserve forest, Kadambad land. It was in the early ’90s that this land was demarcated. However, a large extent has been encroached. Even as recently as two years ago, the locals cultivated reserve forest land and when officials tried to retrieve it, we were threatened. The MLA provoked the locals against us, the public is innocent; they feel the MLA is in support of them, however they are used to grab the land,” Ms Anitha added. DGP M. Mahendar Reddy has spoken to the officer over the phone and assured her of police protection when she resumes work. Telangana state home minister Mohammad Mahmood Ali in a statement said stern action will be initiated against the attackers and protection will be provided to all forest officers....