KUMARAMBHEEM (ASIFABAD) : The maha dharna organised by Adivasi leaders protesting the arrests of their leaders turned violent in Asifabad district headquarters on Thursday. The protesting tribals ransacked the district collector’s office and damaged cars belonging officials reportedly after their attempt to submit a delegation to the district collector was marred by a remark made by an official.
The Adivasi JAC leaders, however, contended that the violence was instigated by ‘outsiders’ to foil their peaceful protest. Gond tribal leaders gave a call for the maha dharna after some people of their community were arrested in the case related to the damage of the idol of a deity of Lambada community. The simmering differences between Gonds and Lambadas reached a peak with this incident.
The Gonds are opposing reservations to Lambadas under ST category, who migrate from neighbouring Maharashtra.On Thursday, Adivasis from undivided Adilabad district started to reach Asifabad. Police denied permission to hold the dharna and put up barricades on roads leading to Asifabad. Police checked all vehicles and detained a few.Some Adivasi JAC leaders too were taken into preventive custody. Traffic moved at a slow pace as barricades were put up at various places, and also due to road blockades by Adivasis protesting against the arrest of those who were on their way to Asifabad.
The tour of health minister C Laxma Reddy in Kaghaznagar and Asifabad constituencies in Kumarambheem district also prompted the police to put restrictions on the protest. However, thousands of Gonds reached Asifabad and staged a dharna in front of the bus stand. Later, they held a meeting at a local function hall.
Former MLA Soyam Bapu Rao declared that they would fight till their demand of Lambadas being removed from ST category was met.After the meeting, a delegation of Adivasi leaders went to the collectorate to submit a memorandum to district collector Champa Lal. It is said that one of the officials behaved rudely with the delegation, prompting protests. The protestors vandalised furniture and damaged cars belonging to the collector even as police were present. Two were reportedly taken into custody.