Hyderabad: Kurra Suresh, an aggrieved tenant farmer in Abdullapurmet, shocked the state as he set Tahsildar Vijaya Reddy ablaze in her chambers on Monday. While the government official was up in flames and charred to death, the man, with 40 per cent burns, walked to the police station and surrendered himself.
While Vijaya was declared brought dead at Osmania General Hospital, Suresh is categorised as ‘critical’ by the doctors of DRDO Hospital.
Suresh’s barbaric crime is unpardonable and deserves the severest punishment. However, the incidents force one to look beyond to understand what made him do it. Reportedly, Suresh was angry at the Tahsildar for not settling the land dispute in his favour. The man was fed-up of making rounds to Vijaya’s office.
It is important to note that ever since the state government started Land Records Updation Programme (LRUP) and issuing new pattadar passbooks, this has led to problems to both farmers and officials.
Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao went on record several times and talked about the corruption in Tahsildar offices. He even vowed to remove Village Revenue Officers (VRO) system, owing to the corruption eating the system.
Even after two years into the LRUP scheme, several thousand farmers have not received their passbooks. There have been incidents of farmers attempting suicides at the collectorates.
A high number of complaints lodged at the ACB are against Tahsildars and Village Revenue officers. These officers are demanding bribe from farmers to hand over passbooks, which is the latter’s right.
Speaking to NewsMeter, an officer said, “Land prices have exponentially grown in interior parts of Telangana. Farmers are afraid of losing their properties to land grabbers if their records are not uploaded online. Also, for beneficiaries of Rythu Bandhu scheme, it is mandatory to computerise the documents.”
The officer noted that taking advantage of this, VROs and Tahsildars are demanding bribe according to the land prices of the district. “In the case of Keshampet, since land prices are high, the bribe demanded was Rs 8 lakh. It varies from district-to-district. The officials are demanding money even to display the existing land.”
Passbooks are similar to bank account book, comprising all details, including survey number, name of the landowner, registration number, extent of land, and more.
The state government has been urging landlords to computerise their land records and paper documents. It is alleged that officials are making money by making changes or deleting records.
“Bribe is demanded to change ownership in case of purchase and name change in case of transfer of land. The corruption in revenue department is known to the TS Chief Minister who had earlier announced to dismantle the department and reconstruct it,” said a source.
Village Revenue Officers (VROs) arrested by ACB: 12
• Tahsildar: 5
• Deputy Tahsildar: 1
• Surveyors: 2
• Deputy Mandal Surveyor: 1
• Divisional Administrative Officer: 1
• Mandal Revenue Inspector: 1
• Village Revenue Assistant: 1
Bribe is demanded for the following reasons:
• To update land records
• For entering land details online and issue pattadar passbooks
• To hand over original proceedings of agriculture land mutation
• To get mutation done and issue pattadar passbooks
• To issue land conversion certificate