Three policemen and a revenue employee were injured when they were attacked by a group of irate villagers during an eviction drive at Vella in Ramachandrapuram mandal here on Wednesday.

Ramachandrapuram DSP S. Srinivas said the Revenue Department staff sought police protection and assistance in evicting villagers who had put up huts in government land that was earmarked for a primary health centre (PHC).

When revenue staff, accompanied by a posse of police personnel, went to the spot , the “encroachers” put up resistance. This led to heated arguments and some outsiders, taking advantage of the situation, started pelting stones on police and revenue officials.

Tension mounted as a woman tried to set herself ablaze. As Alamuru SI Vidyasagar tried to rescue her, he was hit on the head by another woman.

The SI was rushed to a hospital in Kakinada where he was said to be recovering. The other three were discharged after being given first aid in a hospital at Ramachandrapuram.

Rajahmundry Revenue Divisional Officer M. Venugopal Reddy, under whose jurisdiction Ramachandrapuram mandal also falls, said the administration had given sufficient time to the encroachers to vacate the place.

In 1983, the then MRO gave ‘pattas’ to 17 persons. The MRO was placed under suspension for acting in violation of norms. In 1996, the then Joint Collector cancelled the ‘pattas’. The pattadars then approached the Commissioner for Land Revenue who upheld the Joint Collector’s decision. By 2008, the controversy had died down.

But in 2009, huts came up in the same place and the RDO served notices on the “encroachers” through the MRO. During the last by-election, the Chief Minister sanctioned the PHC on the same land and subsequently released funds. Revenue officials had shown an alternative site to the 17 “encroachers” along with 350 others on the outskirts of the village, but they turned down the offer.