Days ahead of the hearing in the 2008 chinkara poaching case in which he is the main accused,former state transport minister Dharmarao Baba Atram has emerged from the political wilderness with a controversial demand. He has sought the merger of his native Gadchiroli district along with neighbouring Chandrapur with the proposed Telangana state.
If separate Vidarbha is not happening,Gadchiroli and Chandrapur should be merged with Telangana so that development comes to these backward districts, said Atram,a tribal leader from the royal Gond family of Sironcha. Hyderabad is just 400 km away while Mumbai is 1,100 km away. Also,there is a sizeable Telugu-speaking population here.
Atram and seven others are accused in the poaching case in which charges are yet to be framed. He was arrested on August 30,2008,allegedly for killing two chinkaras and a hare on June 14,2008. Then an NCP MLA,Atram was removed from the ministry.
Atrams statement has been rejected by leaders in Vidarbha. The demand seems to have made out of frustration that Gadchiroli has been neglected… We must try to understand the sentiment behind it, said Sudhir Mungantiwar,former BJP state president and Ballarpur MLA. Naresh Pugalia,former Chandrapur MP,said: Why should we go to Telangana? The demand has been made out of frustration.
Sironcha tehsil was part of erstwhile Nizam territory and has had a history of agitation for merger with Andhra Pradesh.