Police have booked Kothagudem TRS MLA’s son Vanama Raghavendra Rao in the case of suicide of three members of a family, but he is yet to be arrested.

Telangana businessman Mandiga Naga Ramakrishna and his wife Srilakshmi who died by suicide along with their daughter in Old Paloncha ib Bhadradri Kothagudem
news Death Thursday, January 06, 2022 - 19:59

Three days after a couple and their 12-year-old daughter died allegedly by suicide, a selfie video recorded by the father has surfaced on Thursday, January 6, where he is seen talking about the problems he had been facing before he set himself and his family on fire. In the video, the man has alleged that the Kothagudem MLA’s son Vanama Raghavendra Rao had indirectly demanded sexual favours from his wife, in exchange for helping him resolve a property dispute within his own family. After the three members of the family were found charred to death in their residence in the Old Paloncha area of Bhadradri Kothagudem district, police registered an FIR which included the name of Vanama Raghavendra Rao, the son of Kothagudem MLA and TRS leader Vanama Venkateswara Rao, based on a suicide note discovered by them.

Mandiga Naga Ramakrishna, a businessman, his wife Srilakshmi, and their daughter Sahitya were burnt alive in a fire on the night of Sunday, January 2. Another daughter, Sahiti, was admitted to the hospital with 80% burns. The incident occurred allegedly due to leakage of cooking gas in the house. Police had also named Ramakrishna’s mother and sister in the FIR, based on the suicide note.

In the selfie video that surfaced on January 6, which seems to be an alternative suicide note, Ramakrishna is seen talking about the property dispute within his family, over which he had sought help from Vanama Raghavendra Rao, whose family holds political power in the region. Blaming his mother and sister for not giving him his share of the family inheritance, Ramakrishna said, “I didn’t inherit any property from my mother. I have to pay rent, my sister doesn’t,” adding that he had financial difficulties as he had to pay rent, take care of his family and also repay loans.

Alleging that his sister was harassing him despite his financial condition, he said that his family wasn’t giving him the share of the property which they had promised. When he approached the local MLA’s son Vanama Raghavendra Rao for his help, he was allegedly asked to “bring his wife” to him for the problem to be solved.

“Recently, Vanama Raghavendra Rao said something which no husband should have to hear. In fact, it was an order. He said, ‘If your problem is to be solved, come to Hyderabad with your wife, without kids. Only then will I solve your problem. Otherwise, wherever you go, no one will help you, I will ensure you don’t get your property,’” Ramakrishna alleged in his video.

“With political and financial power and arrogance, he (Raghavendra) identifies others’ weaknesses and exploits them to his benefit,” Ramakrishna said. “People may think I am making false accusations. For such things, one can't produce recordings, photos. They happen in the dark,” he added.

“We have been happily married for 12 years. When I have promised to protect her, I can’t send her like that. This is why I have made this decision,” he said in the video, adding, “If he had asked me for money, I would have tried. But he asked for a person. I am not in a position to fight with them. I cannot face them, considering the political power they have.” He also asked the village elders to ensure that his inheritance from his family is received and used to repay his loans.

On January 3, Raghavendra, and Ramakrishna’s mother and sister, were booked by the Paloncha police under section 306 (abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code. Raghavendra, who is absconding, had released a video denying his involvement in the case. “I have nothing to do with the suicide case of Ramakrishna in Old Paloncha. They were all acquaintances. I merely told him to take good care of his mother, I don’t know why he has named me,” Raghavendra said.

A police officer said they were continuing the investigation based on the suicide notes, video message and other evidence gathered so far. Bhadradri Kothagudem district Superintendent of Police Sunil Dutt said that Raghavendra is yet to be arrested, and five teams have been deployed to find him.

Meanwhile, Kothagudem MLA Vanama Venkateswara Rao wrote an open letter saying he has asked his son to stay away from the constituency until he is proven innocent of all the charges against him. Paloncha Assistant Superintendent of Police Rohit Raj had earlier told the media that investigation in a similar older case involving Raghavendra was also ongoing. In his video, Ramakrishna said, “Another man recently died after blaming him. Within 3-4 months, he is committing such atrocities again. How can we bear this?”

Meanwhile, Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) president Anumula Revanth Reddy slammed the state government for taking no action against the son of the MLA belonging to ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). Revanth Reddy alleged that the government is trying to shield the accused.

With IANS inputs

Read: Telangana family dies by suicide, TRS MLA's son named in FIR

If you are aware of anyone facing mental health issues or feeling suicidal, please provide help. Here are some helpline numbers of suicide-prevention organisations that can offer emotional support to individuals and families. 

Tamil Nadu

State health department's suicide helpline: 104

Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre - 044-24640050 (listed as the sole suicide prevention helpline in Tamil Nadu)

Andhra Pradesh

Life Suicide Prevention: 78930 78930

Roshni: 9166202000, 9127848584

Karnataka

Sahai (24-hour): 080 65000111, 080 65000222

Kerala

Maithri: 0484 2540530

Chaithram: 0484 2361161

Both are 24-hour helpline numbers.

Telangana

State government's suicide prevention (tollfree): 104

Roshni: 040 66202000, 6620200

SEVA: 09441778290, 040 27504682 (between 9 am and 7 pm)

Aasara offers support to individuals and families during an emotional crisis, for those dealing with mental health issues and suicidal ideation, and to those undergoing trauma after the suicide of a loved one. 24x7 Helpline: 9820466726. Click here for working helplines across India.

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