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Farmer accuses PDO, panchayat member and police of assault

A 50-year-old farmer, S. Keshava Rao, from Arasinamakki village in Belthangady taluk has accused Panchayat Development Officer Chandrashekar, panchayat member Jagannath Gowda and Uppinangady police of assaulting him, his younger brother and mother for opposing a proposal to set up a burial ground in a residential locality in his village.

Mr. Keshava Rao told reporters here on Thursday that his family has been cultivating a 5.6-acre Kumki land (government land allowed for cultivation) adjoining its ancestral land and house. He said that he had sought allocation of the land and the application was pending with the office of Assistant Commissioner.

Mr. Keshava Rao said that he filed objections in 2007 to allotting the land to a burial ground, and that objection is still pending with the Deputy Commissioner’s court.

Mr. Keshava Rao said that on June 29 Mr. Chandrashekar and Mr. Jagannath Gowda came to the Kumki land with earthmovers to make markings for the burial ground. The two were accompanied by Uppinangady police personnel. When he tried to stop them, Mr. Chandrashekar, Mr. Jagannath Gowda and his supporters assaulted him. His mother, S. Lakshmi, and his brother, Umesh Rao, were also beaten, he said.

Mr. Keshava Rao said that he, his mother and brother were arrested and taken to the Uppinangady police station, after being accused of obstructing officials from discharging their duty and assault.

The police, he said, beat him up in custody and produced him before the Magistrate on June 30. He was released on bail the same evening.

“My only fault is that I questioned the proposal to set up a burial ground in a residential locality,” Mr. Keshava Rao said before showing tell-tale marks of bruises around his waist, chest and left ear. Mr. Keshava Rao said that the panchayat development officer and the panchayat member pulled down around 50 coconut trees and rubber plantation before marking the land.

Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party district unit president Pratap Simha Nayak said, “I am surprised that the official and the panchayat member marked the land when its status is in question before the revenue authorities.”

Mr. Keshava Rao and his family members met Superintendent of Police Sharanappa S.D. and sought action against the police for alleged custodial assault.

Mr. Sharanappa told The Hindu that the police had accompanied the panchayat development officer and the panchayat member to the land on a request from them. There was an accusation against Mr. Keshava Rao and his family members that they threw stones at the policemen. Mr. Sharanappa said that he will inquire into the allegation made by Mr. Keshava Rao when he filed a complaint.

There is an accusation against him that he and his family attacked policemen, says Superintendent

of Police

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