Farmer’s death blamed on forest land eviction

Shivamogga: The family of a farmer, Lakshmanappa, who died on November 14, is blaming the Ripponpet forest officials’ move  to evict farmers from 160 acres in the area for his death and have lodged a murder case against Ripponpet Range Forest Officer (RFO), Gattu Hanumanthayya.

 Lakshmanappa’s family claims he died off shock on learning about the planned eviction. But sources in the Ripponpet Range office say they had brought in ambulances and the police for the eviction, but even before it could begin, the farmers charged that Lakshmanappa  had died of a heart attack and his son, Nagesh lodged a case against Mr Hanumanthayya.

The issue has now taken political colour with  Janata Dal (Secular) leader, Ameer Hanja, demanding a judicial probe into the death of the farmer and local Congress and BJP leaders too backing his family.

 Responding to the demand, forest officials claim the farmer’s family had been instigated by local political leaders to lodge a case against them only to stall the eviction.

Noting that the farmers of Masaruru grow mainly jowar on the forest land in question, the officers  say they had surveyed the area 

to be cleared of encroachment and even had it cross checked before going ahead with the eviction.

 A couple of months ago, Ripponpet forest officials had successfully  reclaimed about 150 acres of encroached forest land from farmers and did not anticipate trouble in Masaruru, but were proved wrong.   

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