Police firing on farmers rocks AP Assembly, 57 MLAs suspended

The Andhra Assembly was today disrupted by the Opposition, which led to the suspension of 57 TDP legislators, demanding state Revenue Minister Dharmana Prasada Rao`s resignation over the police firing on villagers.

Hyderabad: The Andhra Pradesh Assembly was
today disrupted by the Opposition, which led to the suspension
of 57 TDP legislators, demanding state Revenue Minister
Dharmana Prasada Rao`s resignation over the police firing on
villagers opposing a power plant in Srikakulam district.

As many as 57 TDP legislators were suspended for the day
from the House as they repeatedly prevented the minister from
reacting to the charges made against him.

The House was stuck in pandemonium for more than 25
minutes, as the suspended TDP members refused to go out and
resisted the move to evict them with the help of marshals.

The legislators, however, were forcibly removed by the
marshals from the House.

A couple of TDP members ripped about eight mikes while
they were being dragged out of the House.

Earlier, the opposition Telugu Desam and Praja Rajyam
parties demanded payment of Rs 10 lakh as compensation each to
the kin of those killed while the CPI demanded Rs 20 lakh.

The government, however, announced an ex-gratia payment
of Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of deceased.

The BJP and the CPI-M also joined the issue and strongly
condemned the police firing. All the opposition parties also
demanded a judicial probe by a sitting judge of the High Court
into the incident.

Initiating a discussion on the issue after state Home
Minister Sabita Indra Reddy made a statement on the firing
incident, TDP deputy leader M Narasimhulu held Rao squarely
responsible for the police firing.

"Dharmana has no right to continue as minister as he
is solely responsible for the incident through his provocative
statements. He should either step down or be dismissed from
the Cabinet," Narasimhulu said.

"Who gave you the right to shoot people to death," he
questioned the government.

PRP deputy leader Bandaru Satyananda Rao also blamed the
government over the firing incident and questioned the need
for allowing a private company to set up the thermal power
plant when the locals were strongly opposing it.

The police firing appeared to be a pre-planned step, he

CPI leader K Sambasiva Rao also lashed out at the Revenue
Minister and demanded his resignation as he failed to protect
the interests of people.

"These were pre-planned murders by the government. How
many poor people will the government kill to favour a private
company," he fumed.

The CPI leader wanted Srikakulam district Collector and
Superintendent of Police placed under suspension over the
firing incident.

"Where was the need for deploying 3,000 police personnel
with weapons when the locals were carrying out the protest
peacefully for over 200 days? Why could it not convince the
people about the project in an amicable manner," BJP leader G
Kishan Reddy questioned.

CPI-M leader J Ranga Reddy questioned how police were
deployed despite High Court orders against it.

Home Minister Sabita Indra Reddy, however, said only 300
police personnel were deployed at the project site. She said
police were attacked by the locals when they were returning
after supervising the bandobust duties.

"Police acted only in self-defence and opened fire as
there was no other option," Sabita added.

Government Chief Whip M Bhatti Vikramarka expressed
regrets over the firing and conveyed sympathies to the
bereaved families as well as those injured.

Reacting to the allegations against him, the Revenue
Minister said not a single acre of government land was
acquired for the project.

The TDP members rose to their feet and objected to the
reply by the minister saying he has no right to speak.

As the TDP members came rushing into the Well, Speaker N
Kiran Kumar Reddy adjourned the House for ten minutes.

The TDP legislators continued their protest even after
the House re-assembled.

The Speaker said the Revenue Minister had every right
to reply as his name was repeatedly mentioned by the
opposition members.

He warned the TDP members that he would have name them if
they did not resume their seats but the latter did not relent.
The Speaker then adjourned the proceedings for 15 more

After the TDP MLAs were evicted from the House, the
Revenue Minister hit back at the principal opposition party
saying it was indulging in cheap politics by misquoting his
previous remarks on the thermal power project.

"We very much regret the firing incident. The government
never wished or would ever wish such incidents to happen. But
we want the power project to come up as it will help in the
development of the most backward Srikakulam district,"
Dharmana said.

Earlier, the Home Minister said in a statement in the
House that two persons were killed in police firing while
three others received bullet injuries.

About 86 civilians were injured while 53 policemen,
including the additional SP and a trainee ASP, and six media
personnel were also injured in the clash.

"The firing by police officers occurred on account of
crowd encircling them and resorting to assault on them with
stones and sticks. Firing was resorted to as a last resort in
self-defence after lathicharge and tear gas usage did not
control the situation," Dharmana said.

The Visakhapatnam Range DIG and Srikakulam district SP
were camping in Sompeta and monitoring the situation closely,
Sabita said, adding that the situation was now under control.

The House was then adjourned sine die after the Home
Minister`s reply.


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