September 17, 2023

Telangana: Struggle Continues for House Sites and against Repression

S Veeraiah

AS the struggle for house sites in Telangana intensifies, so does the oppression by both the police and goondas against the fighting people. In Chennur, a horde of over hundred goondas launched an attack, setting fire to the humble dwellings of poor people. Meanwhile, in Jagithyala, these goons targeted poor people who were in the process of constructing homes on assigned lands, resulting in injuries to 13 people, including seven women.

In the Chinna Vaddepally and Bondivagu areas of Warangal district, the police took it upon themselves to dismantle the shanties erected by the underprivileged. Furthermore, in a midnight operation, the police apprehended four people, one of whom was a leader of the CPI(M), while they were asleep. In Mahboobabad district, huts have been demolished by the police for the eighth time. Despite enduring such severe repression, the struggle for housing and house sites has persisted in Telangana for the past 16 months.

The CPI(M) has strongly denounced this repression and called for an immediate halt to such assaults on the poor people. They have urged that homeless people be granted land for housing and offered financial assistance to construct their homes. A delegation of CPI(M) leaders, including state secretariat members S Veeraiah and Mallu Laxmi, as well as state committee member Asaiah, visited Chennur in Mancherial district on September 2 to show their support for the struggling people.

On the morning of September 1st, hired thugs working for land grabbers arrived in two trucks, taking advantage of the fact that all the residents had gone to work. They proceeded to set fire to the huts, reducing them to ashes along with all the essential belongings of the residents, including their food, clothing, and utensils. Consequently, hundreds of poor families lost their homes entirely. In a particularly cruel act, the thugs even urinated in the wells in front of the women. It is evident that these actions were carried out in collusion with the local police, who turned a blind eye for a full hour and arrived at the scene only after everything was already destroyed. Local residents identified one municipal councillor, Velupula Sudhakar of the BRS, as one of the individuals involved in the attack. The land grabbers seem to exert influence over various aspects, including political leaders from the BJP and Congress, as well as media personnel. Understandably, the police did not apprehend any of the attackers. The CPI(M) has demanded swift and stringent action against the culprits and called for appropriate compensation to be provided to the landless poor who have lost everything.

The CPI(M) team extended their support by visiting the villages of Mothe and Thimmapur in Jagityal district. These two villages were subjected to acts of arson by land grabbers, led by Mohan Reddy, vice president of the Thimmapur village panchayat affiliated to the Congress party. The attackers employed sticks and stones, resulting in injuries to 13 people, including seven women. Shockingly, the police filed cases against the victims themselves. In response, hundreds of poor residents marched to the police station, demanding action against the actual culprits, which finally compelled the police to take notice. However, as of now, the police have yet to initiate any action.

Once again, on September 3, the police were directly involved in the demolition of homes of poor residents in the Chinna Vadeppally and Bondivagu areas of Warangal district. It has been discovered that 40 out of the 105 acres of land in Chinna Vadeppally were occupied by land grabbers and wealthy individuals who had constructed buildings illegally. This was carried out in collusion with revenue, municipal, and police officials. However, when the poor attempted to settle there by building huts, they were subjected to attacks, and their huts were destroyed.

In the Bondivagu area, huts are situated half a kilometre away from the highway. On the left side of the access road, there is a drainage canal, which is occupied by a retired DSP who has planted coconut trees and constructed a side wall. Remarkably, he remains unaffected by any action from the authorities. On the right side of the access road, a colony has emerged on assigned land due to land grabbing, plotting, and sale by a land grab gang. Large new buildings now stand on this part of the land.

The residents of the colony have erected barriers to block access to the poor people. Three concrete roads have been built within the colony, but walls have been raised to obstruct the passage of the poor, aiming to create an appearance that it is not a slum area. This form of social exclusion is being practiced to artificially inflate real estate prices. Despite these glaring irregularities, the official machinery has turned a blind eye, effectively allowing them to persist through its complicity. A delegation of CPI(M) leaders, including S Veeraiah, T Sagar (state secretariat members), and Jagdeesh (state committee member), visited the areas in Warangal district to offer their support to the poor people in their struggle for land and homes.