Vijayawada

Fear grips ryots of river front villages

Armed policemen keeping a vigil at Lingayapalem village in Thullur mandal on Tuesday. Photo: T. Vijaya Kumar   | Photo Credit: T VIJAYA KUMAR

A thick slur of ash covers the greenish yellow banana leaves as one walks through the plantations strewn with burnt plastic pipes and other farm implements.

These are the signs indicating a planned arson in the fertile farms of this river side village. Similar incidents were reported in at least six villages since Sunday evening.

The four acre banana farm is owned by Guntupalli Madhusudana Rao, who said he had received a phone call at about 7 p.m. on Sunday from his friend stating that thick plumes of smoke was seen emanating from his farm. Rao rushed to his farm only to see flames leaping as high as a palm tree.

Taking the help of other villagers, he managed to extinguish the blaze after two hours.

Since that fateful night, life in these villages has changed. A constant stream of political leaders keeps visiting the fields. The narrow roads are now guarded by armed policemen. A sense of disquiet is creeping into the small and marginal farmers in these six riverside villages, who have been opposing land pooling for construction of the capital.

A farmer Kondapati Venkateswara Rao alleged that his son Srinath Chowdary was picked up police late on Monday night. The police, however, denied the allegations.

“We are spending the nights with anxiety. Police is keeping a constant vigil on the villages. We have never seen these kind of incidents in the past,” said Khader Babu, a villager.

Minister for Municipal Administration P. Narayana visited the villages. A team of MLAs belonging to YSRC too visited the areas. Yet farmers in the six villages of Rayapudi, Lingayapalem, Mandhadam, Venkatapalem in Thullur and Penumaka and Undavalli in Tadepalli mandal have been spiritedly resisting land pooling.

After passing resolutions in the gram sabha, the farmers even invited social activists from National Alliance of Peoples Movement (NAPM) and Human Rights Forum (HRF) to visit the villages and the latter have extended support.

Adding an intriguing touch is the similarity in the attacks. Police say these were not isolated incidents but have been taking place over the last two weeks. “These attacks took place on Sunday. The miscreants had earlier thrown stones at an Iskcon temple and a guest house at Undavalli. The careful selection of combustible materials and the fact they even left a strange design on the barks of banana plantations is indicative of this,” said SP (Guntur Rural) P.H.D. Ramakrishna.


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Printable version | Aug 2, 2021 3:07:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/fear-grips-ryots-of-river-front-villages/article6739237.ece

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