After release, farmers protest at jail

Shabby treatment by jail staff alleged; official denies charge

Emotional scenes were witnessed at the District Jail complex here on Wednesday during the release of 21 farmers, including 18 women farmers of Yallanna Nagar on bail, six days after being arrested by the Konijerla police in connection with a case filed by the forest staff against 21 villagers over a week ago.

The aggrieved family members of the farmers waited anxiously with tears welling up in their eyes even as 18 women farmers, including two nursing mothers with their months-old babies in their laps, walked out of the jail.

Tense moments prevailed at the entrance of the jail as a section of the women farmers, soon after emerging from the prison, squatted in front of the main entrance of the jail complex in protest against what they termed “shabby treatment” meted out to them by a woman member of the prison staff.

A woman farmer with her four-month-old baby in her lap alleged that she was compelled to remove small pieces of stones from rice along with other remand prisoners for several hours without heeding her pleas to spare her from the arduous kitchen work.

Another woman farmer charged a woman member of the jail staff with abusing and manhandling her for keeping aside a small quantity of rice served to her in the jail for later consumption. “She confined me to a separate cell and made me separate stones from rice for long hours,” the angry woman farmer alleged.

“We were implicated in false cases for trying to safeguard our crops and subjected to inhuman treatment inside the jail,” she alleged.

CPI (ML-New Democracy) State assistant secretary P Ranga Rao and a host of other party leaders joined the sit-in protest expressing solidarity with the aggrieved women farmers.

The agitated women farmers called off their protest following the intervention of the jail authorities.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Ranga Rao alleged that the foisting of false cases against women farmers of Yallanna Nagar sparked widespread criticism from a cross section of society.

The women farmers were treated shabbily inside the jail, he charged, saying: “This is the same jail where TRS president K Chandrasekhar Rao, now the Chief Minister of Telangana, was lodged during his indefinite hunger strike for separate Telangana in 2009.”

Telangana protagonists, including farmers and students, had staged massive protest across Khammam district during that time to espouse the cause of separate Telangana movement, he recalled, alleging that tribals and others belonging to marginalised sections were being subjected to “persecution” under the present dispensation in separate Telangana for trying to assert their rights.

He demanded that the State government immediately resolve the long-pending issues of podu farmers, sanction pattas for their podu lands and withdraw cases foisted against the farmers.

When contacted, district jail superintendent A Sridhar told The Hindu that all the requisite amenities were being provided to remand prisoners as per the prison manual in the district jail.

Rebutting the charges made by some women farmers who were released from the district jail on bail on Wednesday, he said all the 21 remand prisoners from Yallanna Nagar were vaccinated against COVID-19 in the jail and provided with all requisite amenities.

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