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Andhra village with a bloody past is now on the path of peace

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By Mohammed Shafeeq

Kappatralla, Andhra Pradesh: The village in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, which was once a symbol of bloody factional violence in the Rayalaseema region is now on the path of transformation. Thanks to the initiative of Superintendent of Police A. Ravi Krishna, who has adopted the village, peace prevails and the families who were once at each other’s throats, have realized the futility of violence.

Going beyond the work often seen in such villages, Ravi Krishna has brought about a perceptible change by enabling the younger generation of the most dreaded factionists embark on a new journey of peace and development.

Focussing on education and infrastructure, Ravi Krishna bonded the community together, something never witnessed in five decades in this village, located in Devanakonda mandal, 50 km from Kurnool town.

In a village where government officers once feared to enter, he would stay overnight, visiting every household to understand problems and attempting to address them by coordinating with other departments and roping in NGOs, philanthropists and corporate bodies.

In one year, he brought about a visible change, as is evident from the high school building constructed at a cost of Rs.16 lakh, a project that had been pending for 13 years.

The young Indian Police Service (IPS) officer has even purchased a piece of land in this village of 5,000 people to construct a house so that he can come and stay with the villagers at least once in six months, even after he is transferred.

A blacktop road was laid connecting the village, which lies off the Kurnool-Bellary highway. Villagers say it was deliberately kept in a pathetic condition for decades as Palegar Venkatappa Naidu, the most dreaded factional leader in the region, feared a threat from his rivals coming from outside.

After escaping about a dozen attacks, Venkatappa Naidu met a gory end in 2008 when his rivals killed him in the most brutal fashion, a characteristic feature of the factional violence.

The killers rammed an empty truck at high speed into the vehicle in which he, along with 10 others, were travelling. Leaving nothing to chance, bombs were hurled and the bodies hacked with sickles.

In 2014, 21 accused in Venkatappa’s murder case were convicted by a court and sentenced to life imprisonment .The 63-year-old factionist was involved in feuds which claimed 200 lives in Kappatralla and surrounding villages.

It all began in 1969, when Venkatappa removed Varam Kistappa as the sarpanch. A bloody fight began between two families which claimed lives of their members and followers. The feud inspired many Telugu movies on faction violence.

Today, Venkatappa’s house is deserted while a stone’s throw away the house of his rival, Maddiletty Naidu, is locked as he is in jail. A few yards away is the panchayat office, which was turned into a police outpost and at any given time, there would be at least 70 armed policemen to prevent clashes between the two groups.

The families of the followers of the warring factions and those sentenced in various cases are suffering as they lost their sole breadwinners, the majority of them in their 20s and 30s.

Today, the children of the victims and the accused share benches in the school.

“Our family is facing difficult times,” says Mallika, daughter of Chinna Lalappa, who was sentenced to life in the Venkatappa murder case.

Eldest among four sisters and a brother, this Class 8 student dreams of becoming an IPS officer. The family is surviving on meagre earnings of Lalappa’s father and brother, both small farmers.

K. Rasheed, a Class 10 student, said his father K. Abdul Rehman used to work for Venkatappa’s faction and got a life sentence for killing a member of a rival faction. His younger brother is in Class 9 and their mother, an agriculture labourer, is fighting against all odds to educate them. Rasheed, a school topper, wants to become a scientist.

Revenge ran through generations to keep factional feuds alive since early 1970s. “The revenge feeling is no longer there. I told them that they have to stop this because both sides will be losers. No one wins in this faction fight,” Ravi Krishna told IANS.

Though no major incident occurred after 2008, the villagers lived in fear. The officer’s efforts are yielding results. School enrollment has increased and the dropout rate, which was as high as 50 percent is down to zero.

This year, Ravi Krishna persuaded the families of agriculture labourers who migrate in search of work to leave behind their children so that their education is not affected. He even ensured that a seasonal hostel is set up in the village for such children.

“Education is my passion. I believe that when a society is educated, crime comes down,” said the young officer, who has set a goal of producing an IPS officer from the village in six to seven years.

The officer, who sent 30 youths for training as police constables, is also conducting job fairs for youth, has formed women’s self-help groups and a society of farmers. He has also persuaded a leading bank of the district to open a branch in the village.

He is now motivating police officers in other villages to adopt schools, especially in 77 villages of the district affected by the factional violence.

The Rayalaseema region comprising Anantapur, Kadapa, Chittoor and Kurnool is notorious for factional violence, which claimed over 500 lives in the last 15 years. Factions backed by the ruling TDP or Congress have been fighting for supremacy in the villages. (IANS)

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Indian Expert Claims that Russia Might help India in Nuclear Medicine

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Nuclear power must be developed.
Vladimir Putin and Narendra Modi in a conversation. Wikimedia Commons.

Given the current high costs of making radioisotopes used in nuclear medicine, there is considerable scope of collaboration between India and Russia for their manufacture at affordable cost, according to an Indian expert.

Chandigarh-based Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) Professor Baljinder Singh told IANS here on the sidelines of the just-concluded 10th Atomexpo organised by Russian state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom that such cooperation has become essential in view of the global shortage of molybdenum, isotopes of which are used in tens of millions of medical diagnostic procedures annually.

The molybdenum isotope 99mTc, for instance, is the most commonly used medical radioisotope worldwide.

“The molybdenum daughter radionuclide 99mTc is used the world over for imaging on gamma cameras,” Singh said.

“Most nuclear reactors have molybdenum as a by-product — there is a shortage of which globally.”

Singh, who is a jury member at the Atomexpo2018 for selecting the best research projects in the category “Nuclear Technologies for better Healthcare”, pointed out that as a leader in civilian nuclear technology, India is among a few countries making “significant” efforts to produce radioisotopes.

“India has made significant strides in this direction and the task of developing Linear Accelerator (LINAC) technology has been undertaken by Sameer (Society of Applied Microwave Electronics and Engineering and Research) located in IIT Mumbai,” he said.

“It is a Rs 100-crore project being funded by the Telecommunications Ministry. Apart from India, Canada and Russia are the only other countries undertaking advanced level research in this area.”

According to him, in view of the importance of nuclear medicine in early detection of cancer and the recent emergence of new radionuclides for effective treatment, an effort is needed in India to provide these at an affordable cost.

Partnering with a foreign institute having nuclear facility for production of medically useful radioisotopes, and radiochemistry training are required urgently as we have no such course in the country as yet," he said.
The two dignitaries sharing a light moment. Wikimedia Commons.

“Developed countries like the US and Japan have about four PET (positron emission tomography) scanners per million population followed by Europe at 2, and Australia at 1.6 per million. India scores very low with 0.1 PET scanners per million population,” Singh said.

“To have a reasonable ratio of 1 PET scanner per million population over the next ten years, India needs about 1,400 PET scanners and an equal number of gamma cameras.”

Read also: Merkel Told Putin, US Complicated Middle East Situation

He suggested that through tie-ups with Russia, India could arrange to be supplied with such imaging equipment at affordable cost.

Singh’s wish list at this Black Sea resort includes a collaboration with Russia in human capacity building in this area.

“We urgently require international collaboration on radiopharmacy training, as there is no such facility in India.”

Partnering with a foreign institute having nuclear facility for production of medically useful radioisotopes, and radiochemistry training are required urgently as we have no such course in the country as yet,” he said.

“Panjab University, Chandigarh, has taken a lead in starting an M.Sc Nuclear Medicine programme in 2007, jointly with PGIMER.”

Singh is hoping that his agenda would figure in the summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled to take place here next week. IANS.