Hyderabad, May 1 (IANS) Vigilance and Enforcement officials in Telangana on Saturday began probe into allegations against Health Minister Eatala Rajender that he encroached the lands of farmers in Medak district.
A day after Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao ordered the probe, the investigating officials descended on Achampet and Hakimpet villages to survey the land of Jamuna Hatcheries belonging to the minister and surrounding assigned lands of farmers.
They formed teams to conduct digital survey of the lands, gather details from the victims and to check the land records.
Six teams of officials led by Ram Prakash, Revenue Divisional Officer of Toopran were conducting the land survey.
Medak district collector Harish also visited the villages. He told reporters that the preliminary inquiry shows that assigned lands were encroached but they were now conducting a detailed investigation including survey of 117 acres of land.
Large number of police personnel were deployed in the villages and also at the minister's farm house to prevent any untoward incident.
The Chief Minister on Friday ordered inquiry into the allegations against his cabinet colleagues, hours after the victims called on the Chief Minister to lodge their complaint.
The Chief Minister instructed Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar to get an inquiry done by the district collector on the complaints of encroachment of lands.
He also instructed Vigilance DGP Purnachandra Rao to find out the truth on the allegations.
The Chief Minister ordered the probe after some farmers in Medak district submitted a complaint to the chief minister alleging that the Health Minister forcibly took over 100 acres of their assigned lands to start a poultry industry.
Eight villagers from Achampet and Hakimpet villages alleged that the minister and his followers had taken over their lands to start a poultry industry. They sought intervention by the Chief Minister and appealed to him to ensure that the assigned lands given to them by the government be restored to them immediately.
A couple of hours after the Chief Minister ordered the probe, the Health Minister addressed a news conference to deny the allegations and claimed that a campaign was being run for his character assassination.
Rajender said he was ready to face a probe even by a sitting judge or the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
He claimed that he had approached the Chief Minister, seeking land for expansion of a hatchery set up by his son and an official in the Chief Minister's Office suggested that since the surrounding lands are assigned lands the same can be allotted for the hatchery if the farmers surrender the land to the government.
The minister said 20-25 acre land was surrendered by the assignees to revenue officials and the land was still in the possession of authorities.
Rajender said his family had been running poultry business for over three decades with honesty and never indulged in any wrongdoing. He also remarked that no post is important for him than his self-respect.