The investigation into the brutal caste killing of Pranay Kumar by the Nalgonda police in Telangana has revealed bizarre attempts by the prime accused to deceive the authorities. 24-year-old Pranay was hacked to death last Friday as he was coming out of a hospital in Miryalaguda town of Nalgonda district along with his wife Amrutha Varshini, with whom he had an inter-caste marriage in January this year.
The police revealed that T Maruthi Rao, Amrutha’s father and the main accused, struck a deal to kill Pranay for Rs 1 crore. The other accused include Asgar Ali and Mohammed Abul Bari, who were earlier arrested and acquitted in the murder of former Gujarat Home Minister Haren Pandya.
Speaking to reporters about the sequence of incidents that unfolded, Nalgonda SP AV Ranganath said that Maruthi Rao had made all efforts he could to mislead the investigation soon after the murder.
Briefing the media about the arrest, the SP said, “It was a pre-planned caste hatred killing. You can’t see honour in this. In fact, he (Maruthi) has lost his honour now and that’s how we should see it.”
Referring to a scene from the popular Telugu movie Drushyam, the SP said that Maruthi left for Nalgonda two hours before the murder to create an alibi for himself at the Joint Collectorate in the town.
“He met local revenue authorities, was seen travelling near the Collectorate and struck up conversations with as many people as he could, so that people would remember and it would be clear that he was far away from the crime scene,” the SP said.
Speaking to this reporter after the press meet, the SP said, “As Maruthi Rao was heading on the Hyderabad road around an hour and a half before the murder, he saw the Deputy SP near Vemulapally. They could have just waved at each other, as was common practice, but Maruthi stopped his car and tried to talk to the police official about the arrangements for the Ganesh immersion that was due this week.”
The police felt that Maruthi Rao had done these things to deliberately mislead the investigation. However, investigating officials who initiated the probe soon after the killing said that they used ‘reverse engineering’ to nab the accused.
“We were sure that it was Maruthi behind the murder plot and he was on the run after the murder, which added strength to the suspicion,” the SP said.
The police have not revealed whether the accused was arrested or had surrendered himself. But they mentioned that the original plan was for Maruthi Rao and the killer, Subash Sharma, to surrender to the police after the crime, so that the other accused could disassociate themselves from the incident.
“However, as their names started getting flashed on TV, they got worried and switched off their phones. Despite all this, we managed to nab all of them from different places over the course of four days with the help of CCTV footage and technical evidence,” the SP said.
“Maruthi Rao was confused about his further course of action after that and continued to move around, occasionally informing others about his whereabouts,” he added.
The accused have been booked under sections 302 (Murder), 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention), 120b (Party to a criminal conspiracy) read with 109 (Abetment) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and Section 3(2)(v) of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.