HYDERABAD: Opining that the 67 Adivasis belonging to 16 different families were illegally detained in the forest timber depot in Vempally of Adilabad district, a division bench of the Telangana High Court on Saturday directed the State government to produce the heads of 16 adivasi families before the court on Sunday at 5 pm.
Since they belong to Gond tribes, the bench asked two professors of Osmania University, who knew the tribal language, to assist the court by interacting with the alleged detainees and to translate it into English/Telugu to find out whether they were detained illegally by the forest range officer and forest divisional officer of Kaghaznagar area in Adilabad district.
The bench was passing this order in a habeas corpus petition filed in the form of house motion by the Civil Liberties Committee, represented by its State president Prof Gaddam Laxman, seeking directions to the authorities to take action against the erring forest and police officials for allegedly detaining 67 tribals and confining them in the forest timber depot at Vempally.
Petitioner’s counsel V Raghunath told the court that the forest officials have rounded up the 67 tribals who included women and children and harassed them before they were taken to the forest depot. In fact, all these 16 tribal families were residing in the reserved forest area for over three decades but were now illegally detained from June 12.
On the other hand, government counsel Manoj Kumar submitted that some of the tribals have encroached on the forest land, and they were given eviction notice in February this year. Not satisfied with the submissions of the government counsel, the bench, prima facie, opined that the adivasi persons were being illegally detained at the depot.
After ordering the authorities to produce the heads of 16 adivasi families by Sunday evening before the court, the bench posted the matter to June 16. The bench directed them to bring them in an AC bus belonging to the tourism department.