Residents of several villages in Sircilla, a newly created district in Telangana, are up in arms against police and district administration over sand mining in the area after sand-laden trucks were involved in several accidents in the past one month. Two persons have been killed and at least 18 injured in separate accidents in the area.
Sircilla is represented in the Assembly by K T Rama Rao, Minister for IT, Municipal Administration and Urban Development, and Panchayati Raj, and son of CM K Chandrashekar Rao. Opposition parties Congress and Left have alleged that the government was targeting Dalits involved in the anti-mining protests.
It all started on July 2 when B Bhudaiah, a Dalit farmer from Neralla village, was crushed by a sand-laden truck. Following the mishap, local residents set afire six trucks. Police arrested 24 persons for the arson, eight of them from Scheduled Castes. They alleged that police tortured them at the behest of contractors because they were opposing sand mining.
Between July 2 and 31, six more accidents took place with sand-laden trucks hitting two-wheelers or pedestrians. On August 1, a sand-laden truck hit a two-wheeler on which K Shankariah and his son Kumar were going to work. Shankariah (56), also a Dalit, died on the spot. On Friday, another truck hit pedestrians near Ellentakunta, injuring at least eight.
SP K Viswajit said both the truck drivers and the motorists and pedestrians were to blame for the accidents. “There is heavy truck traffic in Sircilla because sand required for irrigation and housing projects goes from this region. Some roads are narrow. In the past few days, we have seen an increase in accidents in which both parties are at fault. In the July 2 incident, the victim was on the wrong side of the road. In some incidents, the drivers overspeed and knock down vehicles and pedestrians,’’ he said.
The SP trashed the allegations that eight Dalits arrested for arson were tortured. “It is a coincidence that the two people killed in the accidents belonged to Scheduled Castes. The propaganda that Dalits are being targeted is being done for political gains. This is the constituency of minister K T Rama Rao and some people are spreading false propaganda to defame him,’’ the SP said.
“We have arrested all the drivers involved, but when they are granted bail by courts, local residents accuse police of letting them go scot-free,” he said. State Congress president N Uttam Kumar Reddy said: “The Dalits who were arrested were beaten up so severely that they were hurriedly shifted to a government hospital. Police is not acting against the truck drivers and sand contractors because they have connections with the ruling family.’’