Inhabitants of Rachakonda tribal thandas attacked the staff of Bharat Dyanamics Limited (BDL) who visited Rachakonda hills on Wednesday to hold a discussion on setting up of Rachakonda Field Firing Range (RFFR).

The BDL team, led by its General Manager N.V. Reddy, arrived at Narayanapur mandal headquarters, located 10 km away from Choutuppal, by 9.30 a.m. Later, accompanied by Nalgonda RDO M .D. Zaheer and Narayanapur mandal Thasildar M. Jayamma, the team members reached the Rachakonda area at around 10 a.m. They offered prayers to the tribal village deity Sarala Misamma before proceeding to Inadhonala thanda where they planned to interact with the villagers.

Till then everything went off peacefully, but the inhabitants of Inadhonala thanda, supported by some CPI activists and tribal people, gathered in good numbers and placed firewood on the way to Inadhonala thanda and put it on fire and waited for the BDL team to arrive.

Slogans raised

On reaching there, the RDO, Mr. Zaheer, and the Tahsildar, Ms. Jayamma, got down their vehicle while the BDL staff remained inside. The tribal people did not allow the officials to speak and raised slogans saying that they would not allow setting up of the firing range as it would lead to their displacement and loss of livelihood.

The other BDL staff too reached the spot and tried to convince the protesters, but some tribal women picked up an argument and accused them of coming there only to evacuate them from their place.

Another tribal said that they were sons of great warrior and Velama King Sing Bhupaludu, who ruled the Rachakonda kingdom in 14th Century AD and patronised great poet of his time Srinatha. “The BDL can build the firing range only after killing all the tribal people living in the hills,” the protesters said. Amid the sloganeering, the village elder of Inadhonala thanda, Sabhavath Somla Nayak, aged 70, doused himself with kerosene and tried to set himself ablaze, but was prevented by the youngsters snatched the match box from him. They threw the kerosene on the BDL staff and threatened to set them on fire if they proceeded even one step forward.

Conspiracy suspected

“The women broke the front glass of the two cars. Local CPI leader Ghulam Rasool said the government had issued GO.104 transferring 5,630 hectares to BDL, while the BDL officials were saying that they needs only 50 hectares for RFFR. They suspected conspiracy in evacuating 20,000 tribal people. The BDL General Manager. Mr.N.V.Reddy told The Hindu that the setting up firing range would not harm the tribal people in any way. However, they would submit a report to their higher ups on the stiff opposition from the tribal people. The RDO also said that he would also submit a report to State government about the objections raised by the tribals.

Later, they had returned to Naryanapur mandal head quarter where they had discussed the issue for an hour.