Staff Reporter

Bodies bundled in cloth recovered

KURNOOL: Two girl child workers, engaged by a seed cotton farmer, were raped and murdered at R. Pampalli in Uyyalawada mandal of Kurnool district on Friday night. The bodies bundled in a piece of cloth were recovered from a minor canal on the outskirts of the village on Saturday morning.

According to reports, the victims, identified as Yasoda (15) and Syamala (13), both sisters, who went to attend call of nature, did not return. After a search, the villagers found the bodies. According to initial reports, the girls were gangraped and murdered.

The girls migrated to the village from Gudur near Kurnool to work in cotton fields three months ago for a wage of Rs. 1500 along with their brother Krishna (22) and elder sister Lakshmi (16).

The elder girl did not accompany the victims on the fateful evening. On information, Collector M. Dana Kishore and SP B. Malla Reddy visited the place and announced an ex gratia of Rs. 50,000 each from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund. An inquiry was ordered apart from criminal investigation.

A seed cotton farmer, identified as Subbarayudu, engaged them to work in the field of his and others also. The children were fed by the farmer and lived on his premises.

According an estimate, about 1,000 children and adults have migrated to the Allagadda area from the drought-prone Gudur area to work in the cotton fields, which is considered a lucrative seasonal employment.

Girls preferred

Major cotton seed companies got their seed produced in the area contracting with the farmers through mediators called "organizers". Teenage girls are preferred for the work of emasculation of cotton flowers to ensure cross-pollination between parental cotton plants.

The emasculation and cross-pollination require six to ten (child) workers per acre for two to three months in a season. According to an estimate, seed cotton is cultivated on 5,000 acres in the area and the seed cotton plots in the R. Pampalli alone occupy 500 acres.

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