KHAMMAM: Tensions escalated at Ambedkar Nagar in Kothagudem district on Thursday, September 30, 2021, when forest officials armed with axes allegedly attacked a few tribal podu cultivators, contending that they were raising crops on a land parcel that belonged to the Forest Department.
Four tribal women sustained injuries in the attack and were shifted to the Kothagudem area hospital. Among the injured women, the condition of Gugulothu Lakshmi is reported to be critical. According to official sources, about 16 Ha of land in the Ambedkarnagar forest has been a bone of contention between the forest officials and tribals for a while now.
Deputy Forest Range Officer B Ramakrshna said, “We had planted saplings in nine of the 16 hectares. But podu cultivators tried to destroy them by ploughing the land. On learning about the intention of the triabls, we rushed there to stop them. But the men who stood as a shield for the women attacked our staff.” Podu cultivators, however, alleged that the forest officials came to the fields they had been cultivating for 40 years and attacked the women with axes.
Forest officials lodged a complaint against eight women and a few others at the Two Town police station. Podu cultivators also lodged a counter complaint against the forest officials.