Andhra Pradesh farmer's death sparks row, BJP seeks probe

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The death of a farmer under mysterious circumstances in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh has sparked a row with opposition parties on Tuesday alleging police torture as the reason and BJP dashing off a letter to the Centre seeking a probe.

Guntur district SP Rajasekhar Babu, however, said the farmer Pittala Koteswara Rao alias Kotaiah committed suicide by consuming pesticide on Monday.

He denied police tortured the farmer as being alleged by opposition parties.

The Chief Minister's Office did not react to the controversy but the Telugu Desam Party in a posting on social media said the farmer ended his life because of "family disputes."

The Chief Minister announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs five lakh to the bereaved family.

In a strongly-worded tweet, YSR Congress president and leader of opposition Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy alleged that the farmer was badly beaten.

He also alleged that the farmer's papaya field was destroyed to enable the chief minister's helicopter landing in the area.

The YSRC set up a fact-finding committee, headed by leader of opposition in the Legislative Council, Ummareddy Venkateswarlu, to probe the incident.

BJP state president Kanna Lakshminarayana, on the other hand, wrote to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, requesting that an inquiry be ordered and justice done to the farmers family.

The BJP and YSR Congress alleged the farmer was badly beaten up by police when he objected to the destruction of his papaya crop in two acres for building a helipad for the Chief Minister, who visited Kondaveedu village Monday afternoon to attend a cultural event.

The beating led to the farmer's death, they alleged.

The District SP, however, claimed the farmer consumed pesticide "four hours ahead" of the Chief Minister's scheduled visit.

"On information given by his son, we shifted Kotaiah to hospital but he died. Reason for his suicide will be established in the investigation," the SP told reporters at Guntur Tuesday.

The SP also said a police control room was set up in the farmers field after obtaining his permission.

The state BJP president, in his letter to the Union Home Minister, alleged that police poured pesticide into the farmers mouth to cover-up their illegal act and project it as suicide.

"The police did not even allow the farmer, battling for life, to be taken to hospital citing the Chief Ministers movement. He died in the melee," he said in the letter, a copy of which was released to the media.