Andhra Pradesh

Chittoor police’s ‘peace saplings’ bury local feuds

Residents of Vangimallavari Palle village in Chittoor district put aside their differences to join a plantation drive.

Residents of Vangimallavari Palle village in Chittoor district put aside their differences to join a plantation drive.  

SP’s humane idea brings warring groups together with a promise to live in peace

An Olive branch symbolises peace. When a person offers one to his enemy, it means cessation of hostility and the beginning of peace. In an area notorious for family and group feuds that sometimes last generations, all are losers. Even if there is a victory, it is only pyrrhic.

In an out of the box solution for a vexed problem, Chittoor police has managed to counsel warring factions, but sensing it is not working fully, planted a sapling idea.

Fights hit development

The story is set in the remote village of Vangimallavari Palle of KV Palle mandal of Madanapalle Division. About 100 families were living on the edge owing to group politics resulting in frequent tensions and threat of attacks, for about a decade. Political differences led to stunted development of the the village’s infrastructure and economy. One group would obstruct the other by blocking entry through the fields owned by the former. Similarly, the other side would hit back, apart from petty things such as non-cooperation in fostering the other’s economy. The result? Children of both sides have become unwitting victims of their elders’ enmities - stopping to speak to each other.

On July 4, the two groups, involving about 20 persons, clashed with each other. While one group imposed a ban on the other supplying milk to a dairy, the latter attacked a local leader, inflicting bleeding injuries. This flared up, and the house of the one who had reportedly engineered the attack was partially damaged and ransacked.

Some mull migration

The KV Palle police registered criminal cases against both sides and had even posted a picket. Having had enough, some peace-loving families were on the verge of leaving the village - to migrate to Bengaluru.

Then, some families approached the Superintendent of Police (SP) Ch. Venkata Appala Naidu in Chittoor and poured out their woes on how the feuds had impacted their lives. “We were on the verge of leaving the village for a peaceful life, when a police constable told us to approach the SP for the right solution,” said T. Nagaraju (50). Another elderly woman Siddamma (74) and a youth Ashok Kumar (29) too expressed similar feelings

Police turn peacemakers

In response, the SP had summoned the local leaders in question and conducted a series of counselling sessions between July 12 and 17, asking them to eschew differences. Then, Mr. Naidu fetched as many as one hundred saplings of different varieties some having religious significane and sought the two parties to plant them jointly in their village with a promise to live peacefully.

Several families joined the promise, with women in the forefront performing pujas to the saplings. Wishes were exchanged at the reunion, followed by invitations to visit each other’s house for lunch and dinner.

Sub-Inspector D. Somasekhar who handled the case said the two groups are a happy lot now.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 4:42:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/chittoor-polices-peace-saplings-bury-local-feuds/article28693088.ece

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