The appearance of Maruthi Rao, the prime accused in the caste killing of 24-year-old Dalit youth Pranay, at a public stage in Miryalaguda town has triggered a major row. Maruthi was spotted sharing the stage with Miryalaguda MLA N Bhaskar Rao and Telangana Legislative Council Chairman Gutta Sukhender Reddy.
Pranay was hacked to death in September last year, allegedly for marrying an upper caste woman, Amrutha, by her father, Maruthi Rao. The police said that Rao, who got conditional bail earlier this year, had plotted the murder and executed it through a contract killing.
Speaking to TNM, Pranay's father, Balaswamy, said that they were hurt seeing the visuals of the event, and alleged that Maruthi Rao was trying to influence the case.
"We are hurt. Why won't we be? It was clearly established by the police itself that he had committed the murder. When we see him roaming around freely, it hurts all of us," Balaswamy said.
"He is attempting to influence everyone and stall the case, as it is a life and death situation for him. Yesterday, he participated in a big meeting and made a short speech. If it goes on like this, tomorrow he may even start building up support among the public for him, after committing such a heinous crime," Balaswamy added.
While the Nalgonda police filed a 1600-page chargesheet in June detailing the sequence of events that led to the planned murder of Pranay, the trial is yet to start.
"We still have faith in the law and we are proceeding according to the legal system. All we can do now, is wait. We are hoping that the trial of the case starts soon," Balaswamy said.
Speaking to TNM earlier on Wednesday and responding to concerns that Maruthi Rao could influence the case, the MLA in question, Bhaskar Rao, denied the charge.
"I would like to assure the people that there is no relation between the event and the case. This does not change anything. Our stand is the same and I will be the first one to demand action against him for the crime," Bhaskar Rao had said.
On September 14, Pranay and his wife Amrutha were coming out of a private hospital in Miryalaguda, when he was attacked with a machete and killed on the spot. Amrutha was pregnant at the time, and delivered a baby boy in January this year.
The entire incident, which was caught on CCTV camera, had created wide outrage.
Maruthi Rao had also found support when the case had come to light. Shortly after Pranay's murder, a group under the banner of 'Thalli Thandrula Parirakshana Vedika' (Parents’ Protection Forum), comprising members belonging to the same caste as Maruthi Rao, took out a rally for him and even met him in jail.