Less than a week after the Telangana government told the Hyderabad High Court that allegations of slain Maoist-turned-gangster Nayeemuddin having ties with the police and politicians from all parties was incorrect, a VIP darshan at Tirumala seems to be showing otherwise.
On Sunday, a photo surfaced of Chintala Venkateswara Reddy, booked earlier for his alleged links with Nayeem, where he was seen emerging after a VIP darshan at Tirumala.
How did he get the access? According to reports, Deputy Chairman of the Telangana state Legislative Council, Nethi Vidyasagara Rao, had sponsored his name and even accompanied him, as the TTD had insisted that VIPs had to be physically present with those whom they sponsor during New Year's Eve. The photograph published by the newspaper showed Rao standing alongside Reddy after the darshan.
(Image Credit: Deccan Chronicle)
Reddy, who is claimed to have been a close associate of Nayeem for almost 15 years, was allegedly involved in several extortion deals. He was also a close aide of Rao, whose name also crops up in one of the FIRs in the case.
Reddy was even taken into custody by the SIT probing the case, but was let out on bail.
There has been at least one allegation of a direct link between Nayeem and Rao, from a businessman from Bhongir, who had alleged that Nayeem demanded Rs 2 crore from him as â€˜mamoolâ€™ (protection money). The business man had stated that he had even got a call from Rao asking him to pay up, when he refused Nayeemâ€™s demand.
Calls to Rao for a comment, went unanswered.
This is not the first time that Reddy and Rao have been photographed together. However, both of them have publicly denied all links to the gangster.
(A photo from October 2015, showing KCR with Reddy and Rao)
Renegade Maoist-turned-gangster Nayeem was gunned down by police in an exchange of fire on August 8 in Shadnagar town near Hyderabad.
An AK47, a 9mm pistol and ammunition were recovered from him, the police said.
In subsequent investigations into Nayeemâ€™s activities, the police had registered 174 cases, examined 741 witnesses and arrested 124 accused, as of December 2016.
Recently, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao rejected the Oppositionâ€™s demand for a CBI probe into the case.
Speaking in the Assembly, KCR claimed that the SIT of the state police had been doing their job efficiently and in an impartial manner.
The Chief Minister also said that during the raids on the gang's hideouts, police seized 21 firearms, 21 cars, 26 motorcycles and Rs 2.95 lakh cash. Police also seized documents of properties estimated to be over Rs 143 crore.
He said the gang's involvement was established in 27 murder cases and it was suspected to be involved in 25 other murder cases.
KCR said police had filed two charge sheets and 15 more charge sheets were ready to be filed.
As a Maoist, Nayeem had killed an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, KL Vyas in 1993. After being expelled from the People's War Group (PWG) for indulging in extortion, he became a police spy to help them effectively counter Left-wing extremism, which was then at its peak.
Nayeem allegedly had close links at the time with politicians and top police officials, and helped eliminate some top Maoists and their sympathisers in the then united Andhra Pradesh.
However, he soon turned rogue, allegedly forming a land-grabbing and extortion nexus that spanned the two Telugu states.