A week after the Secunderabad violence against the controversial Agnipath scheme, the Railway Police on Friday, June 24, arrested the alleged prime conspirator Avula Subba Rao along with three other accomplices– Malla Reddy, Shiva Reddy and Beesi Reddy. According to the Police, Subba Rao, who runs a private defence coaching institute for army aspirants, provoked the aspirants to engage in arson and violence at the Secunderabad railway station on June 17 against the Agnipath scheme meant for recruiting Army personnel.
In the violence, the agitators burnt several coaches of trains and also vandalized stalls in the railway station, forcing the police to open fire at them. One Army aspirant, 23-year-old D Ramesh, died in the firing. The estimated loss due to the violence is reportedly Rs 12 crore.
Rao, who is the director of Sai Defence Academy located in Narsaraopeta of Andhra Pradesh, is accused of providing logistics to the protestors and arranging money for printing banners and towards other expenses required for the protest. Rao previously worked in the Indian Army as a Nursing Assistant and retired from service in 2011, police said.
The police have filed a case against the accused under sections 143 (unlawful assembly) 147 (rioting), 324 (causing hurt by dangerous weapons), 307 (attempt to murder), 435 (mischief by fire), 427 (mischief causing damage), 448 (tresspassing), 336 (endangering life), 332 (deterring public servant), 341 (wrongful restraint), 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 201 (causing disapperance of evidence) along with several sections including the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
According to the police, initially the agitated aspirants wanted to take a rally to the Army Recruitment Office in Secunderabad and give them a representation. However, after noticing the violent protests against the Agnipath scheme in the north Indian states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana among others, Rao provoked them to engage in similar violence.
For this purpose, Rao had created several WhatsApp groups like as Railway Station Block, Indian Army Group, Hakimpet Army Soldiers group, Chalo Secunderabad ARO 3 group, Army GD 2021 March rally group, CEE Soldiers group, etc, and mobilized the aspirants to come to Secunderabad station and cause mayhem, police said in a statement. In the chats, voice notes were shared urging the protestors to carry petrol along with them.
Police said that Rao came to Hyderabad on June 16 to oversee the protest. After provoking the protestors, Rao was monitoring the developments on TV from a lodge in Boduppal.
Police said that Rao had organized the protest since private defence institutes like his, would be at the risk of closure due to the newly-introduced Agnipath scheme. After committing the crime, Rao asked the WhatsApp group members to delete the groups and exit from them. Police said that Rao, Malla Reddy, Shiva Reddy and Beesi Reddy deleted the WhatsApp groups resulting in disappearance of evidence. The three accomplices were allegedly tasked with coordinating with the protestors.
Police said that investigation is underway to identify other administrators of defence training institutes for their role in the case.