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CBI probe into withdrawal of VAT on textiles sought
April, 27th 2012

Barely two days after labour minister Danam Nagender questioned the state government's swiftness in reversing its earlier decision to withdraw 5% VAT on textiles, former textiles minister P Shankar Rao on Thursday alleged that about Rs 100 crore had changed hands in the process and demanded a CBI enquiry into it.

Addressing a press conference here, Shankar Rao charged that a brother of chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy had lobbied on behalf of "the big and rich textile traders" and ensured the withdrawal of VAT.

Rao said he had information that Rs 100 crore had changed hands in the process. "In fact, some traders from Hyderabad offered me huge money to withdraw VAT on textiles. I did not oblige them. But, I did ask the then chief secretary SV Prasad to study the matter in depth. The same traders appear to have got their work done now through a brother of the chief minister," said the former textile minister, who was sacked from the cabinet for his aggressive anti-Kiran campaign.

According to Shankar Rao, a CBI probe would unearth the truth. The former textiles minister's allegations came two days after Danam had written a letter to the chief minister and requested him to put the decision to withdraw VAT on textiles in abeyance until the matter was discussed in the cabinet.

In fact, Kiran Kumar had vehemently refused to grant such an exemption when Danam himself had sought the same at a cabinet meeting last month and the minister wanted an explanation as to why or how did the CM had a change of heart in such a short time.

Vakapalli rape case: High court ruling hailed

VISAKHAPATNAM: Rights activists and civil liberties groups on Thursday welcomed the AP high court order in the infamous Vakapalli rape case, which rocked the state in 2007. They hoped that the victims would get justice and the guilty cops would be punished.

The shocking incident hit the headlines all over the state when 21 special party police (Greyhounds personnel) allegedly abducted and raped 11 tribal women at Vakapalli in G Madugula mandal in the early hours of August 20 in 2007. It was rumoured that the cops targeted the hapless women as they did not co-operate with them during their search for Maoists. Two of the 11 victims had died in the interim 5 years. Pangi Barso, 30, died of a snake-bite when she was working in a field, while Vantala Chittemma, 42, died of ill health. Both died last year.

The Greyhounds cops entered the village on the pretext of carrying out combing operations. They allegedly unleashed a wave of terror on the villagers in the early hours of the day. The cops allegedly assaulted the villagers and raped 11 women at gunpoint.

A day after the incident, the victims faced social boycott from their husbands as they were not allowed to enter the houses as per the tribal customs. Senior police officials, including the then DGP MA Basith and the then district SP Akun Sabarwal, termed the allegations as baseless. They said that it was a ploy by Maoists to discredit the cops and prevent them from carrying out combing operations. The victims met Lake Rajarao, who was the then BSP MLA at Nurmati village and filed a complaint with the sub-collector against the police. On the instructions of the sub-collector, police registered a case under sections 376 (2)(g) of the IPC and section 3(2)(v) of the SC and ST Atrocities Act of 1989.

There were also allegations that the medical tests on the victims were not conducted in a proper manner at King George Hospital in Visakhapatnam on August 21 as part of a deliberate attempt to delay the process. With protests intensifying, the state government appointed IAS officer N Nagireddy to inquire into the issue and ordered a CID probe

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