MADEPALLI (KHAMMAM DISTRICT):“More than 20 forest officials descended on our settlement suddenly and started attacking each and every house. Some of the houses were set on fire and some others were razed to the ground. They threw the utensils and clothes out, and drove us away from our houses,” said Kunjam Jogaiah, a Gotti Koya tribal, from Madepalli village in Enkoor mandal.
Jogaiah was explaining an alleged attack by forest officials to a team of the rights activists led by VS Krishna, general secretary, AP and Telangana Human Rights Forum (HRF), who visited his tribal settlement on Saturday. The tribals said the attack was carried out by the Tallada subdivision forest officials on Tuesday.
“Since there is no shelter left for us to even to sit, we are currently living under the shade of the trees,” the Gotti Koyas said. According to sources, around 30 families consisting of 200 members have been living at Madepalli village in Enkoor mandal since the year 2000. Some of them have even have ration cards registered under the state’s name even though they are from Chattisgarh state. “This is not their first attack. They have done the same in the past, four to five times, demanding that we leave the place,” Jogaiah said and alleged that some forest staff had even stolen our Rs 14,500 cash and took away some utensils.
It is said that the locals were awarded an interim order on October 24 in 2014 which gave them permission to stay at the same place till the case is resolved. “But the forest personnel did not stop their harassment. They carried out the attack on us despite the HC order,” said Kunjam Jogaiah. We are being forced to live on the trees, said Kursam Ramesh, a tribal.
The Gotti Koyas claim they are eligible for pattas for their ‘podu’ lands under the Forest Rights Act 2006,. “The forest officers have no right to vacate us,” they said. HRF leader VS Krishna condemned the act of the forest department. He said the attack on the Gotti Koyas should be considered as a contempt of court.