September 14, 2018 was a day that shook Telangana, as the state witnessed the brutal caste killing of 24-year-old Pranay Perumalla in Miryalaguda town. The main accused in the murder was his father-in-law, Maruthi Rao, who was upset that his daughter had married a man from a lower caste. The murder also had a significance in the case of Sandeep and Madhavi, an inter-caste couple from Hyderabad who’d gotten married against Madhavi’s family’s wishes.
Manoharachari attempted to kill his own daughter, Madhavi, in a fit of rage on Wednesday. While Sandeep managed to escape the attack with a gash on his face, Madhavi continues to battle for her life after having sustained severe injuries. Sandeep's family says that while the discussion about Pranay's killing had come up in the conversation between the couple and Manoharachari, he had assured them that he was not like Maruthi Rao. However, Manoharachari kept bringing up Pranay’s murder in conversation ever since.
On Friday, even as Pranay's murder came to light, Sandeep received a call from Manoharachari around 1 pm. He invited the couple to meet him at a small tea point at Erragadda. After sharing niceties, he returned back to his work. Sandeep thought that it would be same scene when Manoharachari again called him on Wednesday, and asked the couple to meet him.
However, Sandeep’s family has alleged that since Monday – two days before the murder attempt – Manoharachari kept bringing up the Miryalaguda incident, saying, "I would never go to such an extent and act like Maruthi Rao."
“On Monday, when he came to our place around 9.30 pm, he kept asking us to take care of his daughter and we kept assuring him that we would. Even at that time, he said that he would never act like Maruthi Rao. He reiterated this on the following day as well,” Sandeep recalls.
After the Miryalaguda incident, Sandeep's family was shaken, and cautioned the couple against meeting Manoharachari. On Tuesday, the accused was more drunk than usual and had also allegedly threatened Sandeep's family.
"I suspected he would do something like this because he was coming drunk every night and issuing threats. Even if they would have informed me that he was calling them to meet him on Wednesday, I would have advised against it. Unfortunately, they went and we all saw what happened," says Venu, Sandeep's uncle.
Sandeep and his mother both accuse Madhavi’s mother Vijayalakshmi of provoking Manoharachari. They allege that Vijayalakshmi abused them with casteist slurs when both sides of the family had met at the police station for counselling, after the couple had gotten married.
While the police have denied that the murder attempt was motivated by caste, Sandeep’s family say that it was clearly a caste-motivated attack and even gave a representation to the SC Commission.
Manoharachari has been arrested and a case has been registered under Section 307 (Attempt to murder) of the IPC and sections of the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Sandeep shudders every time the incident is mentioned and dreads narrating what happened. After gathering some courage, he says, "Even during the incident, I never thought that he would try to kill Madhavi. In fact, as soon as he attacked me, I ran without even turning back thinking he came to kill me and wouldn’t harm his own daughter. Maruthi Rao's incident flashed in my head and I ran from there."
Sandeep says that he regrets the decision and hopes that Madhavi will recover soon. "She is fragile and I couldn't even bear seeing her slightly hurt. Never did I imagine that I would see her lying on a hospital bed in that state," he adds.
Breaking down, Ramadevi says, “Madhavi’s condition seems critical. I just want her back alive. I will take good care of her. She gave my son 'praanabiksha' as she put her own life at stake to save him.”