In a day of fast moving developments which sent shockwaves in the State on Friday, Health Minister Eatala Rajender got emrboiled in a controversy after he was accused of forcibly acquiring assigned lands to set up a hatchery.
Reacting to the allegations, Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao instructed the Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar to get the allegations inquired into by the Medak District Collector and submit a comprehensive report to him.
Simultaneously, he also ordered the Vigilance and Enforcement (V&E) wing Director General Purnachandra Rao to find out truth in the allegations. He asked the V&E to submit a preliminary report quickly and then a detailed report after the probe.
The senior Minister in KCR’s Cabinet faced these allegations in the form of a three-page complaint written in Telugu and addressed to the Chief Minister by eight villagers. The villagers sought the Chief Minister’s intervention to get their assigned lands back. The Minister is alleged to have started a poultry industry in the lands allegedly encroached, in the name of Jamuna Hatecheries. Incidentally, the lands forcibly taken over were in the name of his wife Jamuna and his son Nitin Reddy.
Addressing a press conference at his residence on Friday night, Rajendar protested his innocence and declared that he was ready to face any punishment if the allegations were proved true. He welcomed the probe saying he was ready to face any inquiry, even by the CBI or a sitting Judge of the High Court. He claimed that he was not in possession of any assigned lands, but had only advised the land owners to surrender it to the government so that he could acquire it to start his hatchery.
With the allegations against the senior-most Minister spreading like wildfire, netizens on social media sought immediate action from the government and for safeguarding the interests of poor farmers. Meanwhile, the Congress party made its move to raise the BC card with two of its leaders – Shravan Kumar and V Hanumanth Rao – claiming that the allegations against Rajender were being made only because he was a BC leader.
The petitioners – Chakali Lingaiah, Chakali Bichchava, Chakali Krishna, Chakali Nagulu, Chakali Parashuram, Erukala Durgaiah, Erukala Yellaiah, Erukala Ramulu and Erukala Suresh – maintained that they were given assigned lands in different survey numbers – 130/5, 130/10 and 64/6 – by the government in 1994. “For the last few months, Minister Eatala Rajender along with his associates Suri alias Alli Sudershan and Yamzala Sudershan Reddy had unveiled a plan to grab the assigned lands”, the petition in Telugu alleged.
They alleged that the Minister and his associates had taken the land documents after subjecting the petitioners to fear stating that the government was taking over the assigned lands. “They had forcibly collected the land assignment certificates from us,” they complained.
The petitioners charged that nearly 100 acres of assigned lands were taken over by the Minister who started constructing sheds for a poultry industry “without any permissions”. Some farmers who objected and refused to give up their lands were being pressurised and were made to suffer with the access to their lands being cut off by the Minister and his followers, it was alleged. Any resistance in this regard was only leading to more threats that access to lands would be denied. The petitioners appealed to the Chief Minister to restore their lands grabbed by the Minister.
Sources said the incident was brought to light by retired District Collector Dharma Reddy who alleged that the Minister was trying to get the assigned lands registered in the name of his wife Jamuna and son Nithin. Additional Collector Nagesh too is learnt to have confirmed the same stating that Eatala Rajender had sought allocation of 25 acres adjacent to his Jamuna Hatcheries and after conducting a field visit, it was found that the land was assigned to the poor farmers. He stated that the same was informed to the Minister, stating that the assigned lands cannot be allocated to private persons, despite repeated pressure.