A Telangana woman forest department official was injured when she was attacked by some people, allegedly led by the brother of a ruling TRS MLA, at a village in Komaram Bheem Asifabad district on Sunday over a land issue.
As video footage of the attack on Forest Range Officer C Anitha went viral, police in a swift action arrested Koneru Krishna Rao, brother of Sirpur MLA Koneru Kannappa, and 13 others on attempt to murder and rioting charges among others.
In a related development, Deputy Superintendent of Police Kagaznagar Sambaih and Inspector Venkatesh were suspended for their negligence in duty in connection with the attack, a police release said Sunday night.
Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) Working president K T Rama Rao condemned the attack and said no one was above the law even as opposition Congress and BJP slammed the K Chandrasekhar Rao government.
Superintendent of Police Malla Reddy said Krishna Rao has been arrested and booked under various sections of the IPC.
#WATCH Telangana: A police team & forest guards were attacked allegedly by Telangana Rashtra Samithi workers in Sirpur Kagaznagar block of Komaram Bheem Asifabad district, during a tree plantation drive. (29-06) pic.twitter.com/FPlME1ygCp— ANI (@ANI) June 30, 2019
"We have registered cases against Krishna and arrested him. The presence of the leaders emboldened the villagers to attack," Malla Reddy told PTI.
The police release said the accused have also been booked under IPC sections including those related to preventing public servant from discharging their duties.
In a tweet, Rama Rao said: "I strongly condemn the atrocious behaviour of Koneru Krishna who attacked a forest officer who was doing her job. He has been arrested & a case booked already; no one is above law of the land."
A Forest department official said Anitha has been hospitalised.
According to the official, Anitha had gone to Sarasala village with some officials to plant saplings as part of the government's 'Haritha Haram' green initiative programme when some people, led by Krishna, attacked them with bamboo poles, claiming that the land belonged to them.
The video footage showed Anitha climbing a tractor to escape and Krishna and other villagers attacking the vehicle. An unidentified man is then seeing hitting the woman official.
Speaking to reporters at the hospital, Anitha alleged Krishna first hit her with a bamboo stick, followed by the others in the group.
Telangana Principal Chief Conservator of Forest P K Jha said the land where the officials went belonged to the forest department and the MLA was also informed about it.
He said the department would take up this issue seriously at a higher level.
"It was forest land. I was given to understand that earlier there were some attempts to encroach it. That time our people got them vacated. It was totally under our control.
There is no cultivation. His (MLAs) brother was there (during the attack)," Jha told PTI.
Kannappa could not be reached for his reactions. Krishna Rao was recently elected vice chairman of the Komaram Bheem Asifabad zilla parishad.
The incident drew condemnation from Congress state president Uttam Kumar Reddy and the BJP.
BJP spokesperson Krishna Sagar Rao claimed the attack showed failure of law and order in the state.
"I am asking the Chief Minister, is it Bangaru (Golden) Telangana? Is it the protection you provide to women?" he asked.