The residents of Chittiramavaram, a small village ten kilometres away from Telangana’s Kothagudem city, say they have been cultivating a plot of around 50 acres near the village for half a century. Among them is Gogula Lakshmi, who grew millets and vegetables in a two-acre plot within this area.
In February 2021, Lakshmi and the others had begun to prepare their fields to plant jowar, when the police arrived with forest officials. The police told the cultivators that the land belonged to the forest department, and that according to the law, they were encroachers.
As Lakshmi and other women from the village began to protest, a member of the police struck her head with a lathi, she told Scroll.in. She fainted from the blow. The police rounded up around 20 of her neighbours and relatives and charged them with assault, trespassing on government property, and obstructing government servants from doing their duty. The cultivators could not plant their crop.
A year and a half later, Lakshmi still suffers from bouts of nausea, dizziness and fainting. The accused residents of the village continue to fight the cases against them in Kothagudem’s sessions court.
Lakshmi’s family is one of thousands that have for decades been cultivating similar lands, adjacent to the…