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Lorry Kills 20 Farmers Protesting Sand Mafia

20 persons from a group of farmers who had gone to Yerpadu Police Station in Chittoor district to protest against the sand mafia were killed by a speeding lorry.
Hyderabad | 21st April 2017
As many as 20 persons, who were among a group of farmers who had gone to Yerpadu Police Station in Chittoor district to protest the activities of the sand mafia in the area, were killed when a speeding lorry, after hitting an electric pole, mowed them down before the police station on Friday morning.

Another 25 persons were rushed with multiple injuries to Ruia Hospital in Tirupati - some of them are in a serious condition.

A CI, an SI and a few constables also sustained injuries in the freak accident.

The rogue lorry was proceeding from Tirupati to Renigunta when the mishap occurred.

The police said that as per the preliminary investigations the lorry driver was drunk and was driving the vehicle at a high speed at the time of the mishap. The lorry first rammed into a vehicle, then hit an electric pole, then ran through some shops in the area, and then finally mowed down the people assembled before the police station to represent against the activities of the sand mafia in the area.

It is stated that most of the victims died due to electrocution as the high tension wires of the pole had fallen on them. Many of them were indeed found with severe burn injuries. Several others were crushed under the wheels of the speeding lorry.

According to eye-witness accounts, including those of people who narrowly escaped death, the farmers from the nearby villages had wanted to make a representation on the activities of some persons who were "illegally" quarrying sand from the Swarnamukhi river bed. After a series of protests and representations to various authorities, the harassed farmers were stated to have decided to submit a memorandum to the MRO. Since he was not available they were stated to have been advised to meet the Superintendent of Police.

The villagers numbering about 60 to 70 persons including women, most of them farmers, went to the police station to submit a memorandum to the SP. According to the version of the villagers, the SP refused to even listen to their grievances, and asked them to submit the memorandum to the CI and immediately left the place.

Even as the villagers were trying to discuss their problems with the police officials before the police station, the freak incident occurred.

The tragedy was stated to have unfolded in seconds, and there was no scope whatsoever for the victims to avoid being mowed down.

Those who were fortunate enough to escape said that innocent lives would not have been lost in the mishap but for the callous attitude of the SP in making them stand outside the police station.

"If we were allowed inside the police station for discussion, probably many lives could have been saved," many lamented.

They also alleged that the police and revenue officials were hand in glove with the sand mafia. In fact the villagers charged that it was because of the "protection" being extended by the local authorities the sand mafia was flourishing.

AP Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, upon hearing of the tragedy, expressed his shock and grief. A cabinet meeting condoled the deaths. The government announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 5 lakhs to the families of each of the deceased. The state administration will also bear all the expenditure for the treatment of the injured in the hospitals.

The CM also directed minister Amarnath Reddy to immediately rush to the accident site and make all necessary relief arrangements.

Leader Of Opposition and President of the YSR Congress Party Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, President of the AP Congress Committee N Raghuveera Reddy and many others also expressed shock and grief at the tragic accident.

Meanwhile speculations have started about the accident. It is being alleged that there is more to the accident than meets the eye. There is suspicion in various quarters that the sand mafia has a hand in the tragedy.
filed in:  Andhra Pradesh, Deaths, Accidents, Road Accidents, Crime, Andhra Pradesh Crime, Farmers, Chittoor, Sand, Sand Mafia, Chandrababu Naidu
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