20 injured as protest over temple land turns violent

20 injured as protest over temple land turns violent

Family claims ownership of land, invites villagers' wrath at Maddur village

As many as 20 persons, including villagers and police, were injured after a protest related to a temple land dispute turned violent at Rajegowdanadoddi village in the taluk on Wednesday.

While 15 villagers were injured in police caning, five policemen were injured after the incensed villagers pelted stones at them in retaliation.

Among the injured, ten persons who sustained severe injuries were immediately rushed to the government hospital in an ambulance. The injured police personnel were PSI Venkatesh of Koppa station, PSI Jayalakshmi of Mandya West station, women constables Hemalatha, Yashodha and Kalavathi. They are also being treated at the district hospital.

According to sources, the issue is related to seven acres and 16 guntas of land in Survey Number 211 in the village. One Gowramma of the village was tilling the land with a tractor amid police protection and  some villagers learnt about it. According to the villagers, the land belongs to Narayanaswamy Temple in the village.

However, Gowramma claimed the ownership of the land and it resulted in a wordy duel.

Some women and men staged a protest by stretching on the ground restraining the tractor to move. This led to commotion as policemen, who arrived at the spot to control the situation, tried to clear them and eventually resorted to lathicharge them to disperse the crowd.

This led to a high drama, with some women threatening to immolate themselves with kerosene. They had brought kerosene cans with them. The cans were later snatched by the police. The Fire and Emergency Services Department personnel doused the fire with water cannons.

The villagers contended that the land was gifted to the temple (Inam Zameen). Gowramma and her son Sathishbabu, who was a civil servant in the rank of assistant commissioner, have allegedly forged records and converted the ownership of land to his name.

As the dispute remains to be settled in the court, status quo should be maintained, they stressed.

According to DySP Shivakumar police had given necessary protection to Gowramma to take up cultivation on the land as directed by the House panel, after discussing the issue. However, Gowramma said they had not created any fake documents as the land was sanctioned under Land Reforms Act in 1973. “Satishbabu was just seven years old then. He had not misused the law to acquire the land as alleged by the villagers. We don’t have any other land,” Gowramma said and alleged that some village leaders have been causing trouble to her from the last three years.

As the villagers continued with their protest, three platoons of reserve police, eight PSI and nine ASI and more than 150 constables have been deputed in the village to prevent any untoward incidents.

The villagers warned that they would lay siege to the Deputy Commissioner’s office at 11 am on Thursday.

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