“Even animals are not hit this way”, says woman forest official after brutal attack

Hyderabad/New Delhi: The brutal attack of a woman forest officer with huge bamboo sticks in Telangana by some people allegedly led by the brother of a ruling TRS MLA unleashed a torrent of rage with the victim on Monday saying even animals are not hit this way.

As the attack on C Anita, the 34-year-old Forest Range Officer (FRO) of the Telangana forest department, on Sunday while she was discharging her duties echoed in Parliament, the National Commission for Women(NCW) expressed concern and asked the state DGP to give a detailed action taken report in the matter.

Anitha, who is being treated at a private super specialty hospital in Hyderabad, said the mob, led by MLA Koneru Konappa’s brother Krishna, did not spare her and other forest personnel though they pleaded not to be hit. She also said she never expected to be hit like this when in uniform.

District Forest Officer L Ranjith Naik said Anitha was shifted to a private hospital in Hyderabad for better treatment.

“She is doing fine. There are some hairline fractures on her left arm,” he said.

The Centre told the Rajya Sabha it has taken serious note of the incident.

“We are taking it very seriously because this cannot be tolerated. We, as a regulator, will do whatever possible,” Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said during Question Hour.

KB-Asifabad police Sunday arrested Krishna and his followers for allegedly assaulting the forest officer in Sarasala village in the district.

Anitha, along with her staff and police, had gone to the village for plantation on a land under a compensatory afforestation scheme for Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project, said a senior forest department official.

Video footage of the attack showed Anitha climbing onto a tractor to escape from the attack by bamboo stick-wielding people.

She was seen pleading with them not to attack.

“Even animals are not thrashed this way,” a visibly shaken Anitha told reporters at the hospital, as she sought a reassurance from the government about her security and strong action to act as a deterrent for such incidents.

“…Krishna came (to the site) and pushed back police and started hitting (us). They targeted me first and after hitting me, villagers started thrashing our officials. I was injured and our people took me back.

“Without even bothering that there are women, they hit us though we pleaded not to be hit. Even animals are not thrashed like this,”she said.

“They will try to do something (harm) even after going from here(hospital)…strong action is needed to deter such things.

“There are many such incidents, political leaders have lot of support and they (attackers) come out in the day (from prisons)…Who will take responsibility if something happens to me? I definitely want security.”

Anitha said it should be ensured that Krishna does not interfere in this manner again.

“I have come to the Government to serve people. I took up this job with the love for uniform. I never expected to be hit like this when in uniform.”

Her husband Manik Rao told PTI the was trying to meet Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and apprise him of the attack.

Condemning the incident, forest department personnel took out a rally at Sirpur-Kagaznagar.

The Indian Forest Service Association, Telangana Chapter, in a statement, said the “atrocious and uncivilized attack on the unarmed forest staff” is highly deplorable and demanded that the government take immediate stringent action against all those responsible for the incident.

Superintendent of Police Malla Reddy said Krishna and 13 others were remanded to judicial custody.

Police are verifying the footage of the incident to identify others who were part of the attack.

The police department in an official release, had said that DSP Kagaznagar Sambaih and Inspector Venkatesh were suspended for their “negligence” in discharging their duties in connection with the incident.

NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma said the commission is seriously concerned about the brutal crime targeted against officials and women in particular performing their duty.

“Considering the gravity of the matter, I request you to ensure swift and speedy investigation in the matter and send a detailed action taken report to the commission at an early date by e-mail and fax,” Sharma said in a letter to M Mahendar Reddy, Director General of Police in Telangana.

The Opposition Congress attackedthe TRS government over the incident.

Former Congress MP V Hanumatha Rao, who visited Anitha in the hospital, demanded tough action against the perpetrators.

Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader M Bhatti Vikramarka appointed a “fact-finding committee” of four party MLAs on the incident.

Meanwhile, police said that the Telangana forest department has lodged a complaint against a TRS MLA for allegedly “obstructing” their work.

The MLA, Vanama Venkateswara Rao, has refuted the allegations.

According to a police official, the forest department lodged a complaint against Kothagudem TRS MLA Vanama Venkateswara Rao saying that he along with four or five of his supporters obstructed construction of a wall for protection of forest land near Yellandu town on June 29.

“We have received a complaint today (July 1) against the MLA and others that they were obstructing the forest departments work. We are inquiring into the complaint,” the official said.

Refuting the allegations, Venkateswara Rao said he approached the forest department officials on behalf of a group of Adivasis to sort out their land issue.

“I have not threatened anybody and I did not obstruct any work also,” he said.