ANDHRA PRADESH

Land deals: TDP protests against denial of probe

HYDERABAD, MARCH 24. Members of the CPI(M) staged a walkout from the Assembly on Thursday after the Government rejected their demand for a House committee probe into land dealings by the Kalki Bhagwan ashram in Varadaiahpalem mandal of Chittoor district.

Three Telugu Desam members -- A. S. Manohar, N. Janardhan Reddy and P. Keshavulu -- joined K. Narayanaswamy (Congress), who raised the matter through a short-notice question, in seeking such a probe.

Thammineni Veerabhadram and N. Narsimhaiah, both CPI(M), and others alleged that Kalki Bhagwan had illegally occupied nearly 10,000 acres of land, a part of which was originally assigned to dalits by the Government. They said Kalki Bhagwan was initially an LIC agent but now he had styled himself as Godman. Several cases were pending against him in Tamil Nadu courts. The private security to the ashram was such that not even a Minister could go inside, they said and added that nothing short of a House committee would be able to bring out truth in the matter.

They quoted the RDO of the area as having admitted that it was partly by encroachment or illegal purchase from dalit-assignees that the ashram had occupied some of these lands. Mr Narayanaswamy, however, said the district Collector had restored some lands to the dalits.

The Revenue Minister, D. Prasada Rao, turned down their plea for the House committee probe saying Act 9 of 1970 could be invoked for recovery of dalit lands. Already, 75 acres was recovered. He said the Government would appoint a senior advocate if necessary for vacating the High Court stay regarding these lands.

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