Nerella incident puts TRS in a spot

Hyderabad, Aug 13: The Nerella incident has put the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government in a spot with the opposition sharpening its attack and the High Court and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) also seeking reports.

More than a month after the incident at Nerella in Rajanna Sircilla district in which the police brutally tortured persons belonging to the Scheduled Caste and Backward Class communities, NHRC last week served notice on TS Director-General of Police Anurag Sharma and the government, based on a complaint as well as media reports.

The NHRC has asked the DGP and the government to conduct a fair and independent inquiry into the allegations that persons belonging to the SC and BC communities were illegally detained and tortured. It directed them to submit the report within a month.

The NHRC said that it was alleged that the local police did not act on the many complaints of the villagers that lorries belonging to sand contractors were speeding dangerously, and had caused several deaths.

“They are notorious for overloading lorries with sand and driving them at high speed disregarding the safety and security of the villagers. Reportedly, on July 2, 2017, a lorry of a sand contractor ran over a person belonging to a Scheduled Tribe. After this, two lorries were set ablaze by the angry villagers, following which the police indiscriminately picked up at least eight persons and brutally tortured them,” the notice said.

The NHRC’s action came a couple of days after main opposition Congress party moved NHRC, urging it  to direct the Telangana government to take action against police officials allegedly responsible for committing atrocities on Dalits.

A delegation of Congress leaders led by All India Congress Committee Secretary R.C. Khuntia, the newly appointed incharge of party affairs in Telangana,  met the officials of National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes.

The party alleged that police poured hot water on the private parts and gave electric shocks to the arrested villagers.

TRS initially dismissed the Congress allegations a part of its conspiracy to defame the government.

K.T. Rama Rao, in whose constituency the incident occurred, stated that if a chargesheet is to be filed for atrocities on Dalits, Congress will be the number one accused.

Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s son also alleged that Congress is making allegations as it was jealous of the government’s success in improving the revenues from sand and minerals.

However, former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar’s visit to Karimnagar jail to meet the victims on July 31 highlighted the issue at the national level, causing embarrassment to TRS. The government ordered probe by DIG-level official.

KTR, who came under sharp criticism for not even meeting the victims, finally called on them, more than a month after the incident. He met the victims at a hospital in Vemulawada and enquired about the incident

The minister termed the incident as unfortunate and cause of concern. He also promised corporate hospital treatment.

KTR, however, lashed out at the opposition parties for trying to political mileage from the incident and wondered how it could be called sand mafia when the government had earned more than Rs.1,000 crore from sand mining.

A day after KTR’s visit, the government suspended Sircilla CCS inspector B. Ravinder, holding him responsible for using excessive force against the villagers.

The families of the eight youths who were allegedly tortured complained to DGP Anurag Sharma. Rights organisations and political parties had demanded against Rajanna Sircilla district SP Vish-wajit Kampati, Ravinder and 18 police personnel.

On a petition by Civil Liberties Council president Gaddam Lakshman, Hyderabad High Court directed the government to depute senior doctors to examine the victims and report back to the court.

With the opposition continuing its attack, TRS may face more heat in the coming days.

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