Support for Maruthi Rao, accused of killing Pranay, a 24-year-old Dalit man for marrying his daughter, is gaining momentum in Telangana’s Miryalaguda. Several groups have come together to oppose the plan to erect a bust of Pranay at the Miryalaguda junction. One group called Thalli Thandrula Parirakshana Vedika (Parents’ Protection Forum) comprising members of Arya Vyshya Sangham has not only appealed to the police and government to not erect a statue, members even met Maruthi Rao in jail.
The Parents’ Protection Forum was formed just two days ago with the sole aim of ensuring the statue does not come up in Miryalaguda. In their representation to the police and government, the group wrote: “Pranay is neither a leader nor a social activist. He does not deserve a statue in any manner. The erecting of the statue also sends ‘wrong signals’ to teenagers and children, and provokes them, which is not good for ‘Indian society’.”
Emboldened by the online support Maruthi Rao received, PPF members took a rally and also met Maruthi Rao in prison.
Supporters of Maruthi Rao giving a representation
Speaking to TNM, Bhupathi Raju, a member of the PPF, who incidentally belongs to the same caste as Maruthi Rao, says, “We went to meet Maruthi Rao, just to talk with him. We wanted to find out the truth.”
According to him, Maruthi Rao is wrongly detained by the police. “The police is saying that he (Maruthi Rao) was the brain behind the murder, but we don’t know the actual truth. Maruthi Rao’s family is also a victim, just like Pranay’s.”
Raju runs a local magazine called ‘Goodachari’ (Spy). Further, he questions why should a statue for Pranay be erected. “Pranay’s parents are openly claiming that their son was in love with Amrutha since Class 9. Is it right? If we erect a statue, what message does it send? Wouldn’t it affect our children? The statue will provoke children to love, which is not good for our society.”
Raju also demands the government increase the age of marriage for women from 18 to 21. “Girl children are being manipulated when they are just 18. And hence, the age limit should be increased, so that they choose wise men.”
Foundation for Pranay's bust under construction in Miryalaguda
Chilukuri Shyam, an advocate who is also part of the group, says that statue will create communal tensions in Miryalaguda. “What happened was an issue between two families. Why are they erecting statues for this at a public place? What does it represent? Why are they making Pranay an icon? Why does he deserve a statue?”
“Pranay and Amrutha have brought disrepute to Miryalaguda. Moreover, they are not Dalits, they are Christians,” he adds.
Reacting to the opposition, Pranay’s father says, “The demand for Pranay’s bust is to remind everyone about the brutal caste killing, so that such an incident doesn’t repeat itself. Pranay should be the last victim of caste violence; that is our wish.”
He further says, “The Vyshya’s have consolidated their community, after the Dalits united to show that they wouldn’t stay quiet. These groups who are opposing the bust are supporters of Maruthi Rao, masking themselves as ‘concerned parents’. They are all upper castes.”
Two weeks ago, 24-year-old Pranay, a Dalit man from the SC Mala community was brutally hacked to death in Telangana’s Miryalaguda for marrying Amrutha, a caste Hindu. In the crime, the prime accused was identified as Maruthi Rao, who allegedly plotted the murder and paid off a contract killer to carry out the murder. A total of 7 persons were arrested for the murder, which happened broad daylight outside a hospital on September 14. Pranay and Amrutha, who is five months pregnant, had gone for a routine check-up when the murder took place.