Rival groups claim right over a piece of land outside the plus-five contour

Fishermen are engaged in a race for farmlands outside the plus-five contour of the Kolleru Lake after the Operation Kolleru undertaken by the government six years ago.

In the process, people, who have been living in perfect harmony all these days, are divided on caste lines, subjecting themselves to social tensions.

The administration had demolished fishponds in over 30,000 acres in the plus-five contour of the lake falling under West Godavari district during the operation, displacing both the Vaddis and the SCs, the predominant fishing communities.

Komatilanka, an island village located in the midst of Kolleru , became a battleground for a caste war between the Malas from the village and the Vaddis of Sriparru, some 20-km away, over a piece of government land.

It was alleged that a group of people from Sriparru went to Komatilanka claiming rights over the land, leading to a clash with the local SCs a few days ago. Three Vaddi women from Sriparru, who were hospitalised, alleged that they were attacked by the rival group.

Case registered

Eluru Rural Circle Inspector M. Sudhakara Rao said a case of assault was registered against members of both the groups. The police enforced Section 145 at Komatilanka, seeking both the groups to restrain from claiming right over the lands under dispute.

Close on the heels, Dalits staged a protest at the Collectorate here on Saturday under the banner of the Andhra Pradesh Ambedkar Yuvajana Sangham, seeking ‘restoration' of the enjoyment rights of the residents of Komatilanka over the lands. They also demanded that a case be registered against the rival group under the Andhra Pradesh SC and ST Atrocities (Prevention) Act.

According to information, a stretch of 288 acres of land belonging to the government was available in Komatilanka located beyond the plus-five contour of the lake. B. Kranti Kumar, vice-president of the yuvajana sangham, asserted that the SCs from Komatilanka were enjoying the land for a long time.

In a related development at Prattikollalanka, another Kolleru habitation, the rift between the two communities led to a social boycott involving the SCs some time ago.

Even as a section of SCs from the village were eking out a living as autodrivers, Vaddis allegedly decided not to hire their vehicles for over a month. M. Peddiraju from a belt village of Kolleru, who retired as Special Deputy Collector, regretted the widening caste divide in the lake villages.