Udupi Deputy Commissioner Priyanka Mary Francis and Assistant Commissioner Shilpa Nag had a narrow escape after a gang involved in illegal sand mining chased and manhandled them on Monday. A Village Accountant from Amparu village, Kantharaj, who was with them was gravely assaulted and has been hospitalised. The DC and AC were, however, safeguarded by the DC’s gunman.
The incident occurred near Halnadu and Kandlur villages in Kundapura taluk of the district, where the officials had gone for a surprise inspection following repeated complaints from the villagers about rampant sand mining.
According to Priyanka Mary Francis, her team first went to Halnadu village, where they were followed by some people on two-wheelers. But on seeing the gunman, they fled. The team came across some lorries abandoned by their drivers. “We confiscated the keys of three lorries,” the Deputy Commissioner said. The team was able to catch six men, who were handed over to Kundapura Police along with the keys of the lorries.
“As we did not want anyone from the local administrative system to be involved, we decided to call the Brahmavar Tahsildar. However, he was held up with some personal issue. Halnadu Village Accountant was on leave. Hence, Amparu Village Accountant Kantharaj accompanied us,” she said.
When the team went to Kandlur village later, it was followed by several vehicles, including two-wheelers. There were about eight temporary shelters at that site. As soon as the team reached there, those extracting sand illegally started running away. Her gunman chased one of them. But he was followed by a large group.
She said though she kept telling the mob that she was the Deputy Commissioner, it made no impact and the mob manhandled them and used abusive language against her and her team. Realising the gravity of the situation, some local people helped the officials get into their cars. Some people even tried to block the car, but the driver managed to get them away from the spot. In the melee, Kantharaj was left behind and was assaulted by the sand miners.
The DC called the Police who rescued him. Later, DC Priyanka Mary Francis filed a complaint at Udupi Town Police Station under various sections of the Indian Penal Code including attempt to murder.