Staff Reporter

Sight of closed doors and people hushed up behind windows was common

TSUNDUR (GUNTUR DT): The moist air in the village was filled with a sense of expectancy and the tension was palpable in the faces of villagers.

The final judgment was to be delivered by the special court under SCs, STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989, after a long drawn legal battle.

As one drove to the village, sight of closed doors and people hushed up behind the windows became common. The main thoroughfares in the village wore a deserted look, as a heavy police contingent in riot gear trooped in the village. Schools, small time shops and even petty vendors were forced to down their shutters.

A shrill whistle from a cop was enough to scatter groups of men and women scurrying into their homes.

``The police have been announcing that Section 144 will be enforced in the mandal for the last one week,” said Rangamma, owning a small shop. Police pickets were set up at vital road junctions in the village

Cordoned off

The area leading to the special court was completely cordoned off. Police in riot gear took up positions at various places and foiled any attempts by the villagers to gather in groups.

Even women, who hustled up in thatched houses adjacent to the court hall were not spared, as they were driven away by the cops.

Superintendent of Police Mahesh Chandra Laddha supervised the bandobust arrangements.

The mood in the village was as undulating as the weather. As soon as the first batch of acquitted persons trickled out in the blazing sun, there was a sense of relief as they hugged the near and dear ones.

However, the joy was shortlived as the judge delivered the verdict.

Dalit groups were left seething with anger and the police had a tough time in chasing away the groups of people gathered on the road.

Emotional scenes

Meanwhile, the clouds opened and after a long interval and amid intermittent showers, the judge finally pronounced the verdict. Women, most of them wives of the convicted, broke down as soon as the verdict was pronounced.

Some of them, whose husbands were sentenced to rigorous imprisonment, jostled with each other near the gate to pay the penalty.