Amboji Naresh was killed and his body burnt and thrown in the Musi river, allegedly for marrying a woman from a higher caste.

There wasnt a body left to burn Telangana Dalit family mourns son lost to honour killingFile Photo
news Crime Wednesday, May 31, 2017 - 12:37

Amidst the nearly 100 protestors shouting slogans against honour killing under the harsh Monday sun in Bhongir Town in Yadadri district, Telangana, Amboji Indira looks lost in shock and grief.

“She is not eating anything. She is unable to believe that her son is gone, and will never come to meet her for any festivals. She is not talking much,” Neelima, her daughter, tells TNM.

Three days ago, the burnt remains of Indira’s son and Neelima’s brother Amboji Naresh were found in the fields of Srinivas Reddy. According to the police, Srinivas had killed Naresh because he was unhappy that his daughter Swathi had married a man from a lower caste. He had burnt Naresh’s body and thrown the remains in the Musi river. Just under two weeks before that, Swathi had allegedly committed suicide.

Indira, who last saw Naresh in April, is struggling to come to terms with the fact that she could not even perform the last rites for her son.

“They burnt his body – we did not even get to see his dead body, not even ashes. All my mother does is cry or goes completely silent,” says Neelima, while Indira wipes her tears with the end of her fading saree.

Indira says that Naresh, who always said that he would only marry the woman his mother chose, did not even tell her before he finally got married.

“I always asked him (Naresh) to find a girl for himself but he would say he only wanted to marry a girl that I selected. I am an unlucky woman, who could not attend his marriage or his funeral,” she cries.

From the beginning

In 2001, Amboji Venkataiah, Naresh’s father, and his wife and daughters, relocated to Mumbai from Pallerla village in Atmakur mandal of Yadadri district. However, Naresh decided to stay back in the district to complete his studies.

In March this year, Indira went to Atmakur mandal to visit her younger daughter, who had got married a year ago. “My mother and Naresh were both supposed to travel to Mumbai on March 23, but Naresh suddenly cancelled his plans saying he had to help one of his friends with a job interview in Hyderabad,” Neelima recalls.

On March 25, Venkataiah received a call from Mumbai police telling him that his son had got married to Tummala Swathi in Mumbai and had come to the police seeking protection.

Venkataiah says that he did not have any problem with the inter-caste marriage, but was worried about the fact that Swathi was Srinivas Reddy’s daughter.

“We are from neighbouring villages, and I know him. That is why I was worried. Srinivas Reddy had a criminal record. As a father, I was worried about my daughter-in-law and son both,” he says.

Neelima, who stays in Sholapur, Maharashtra with her husband, alleges she received a call from Srinivas, threatening violence against their relatives if his daughter was not returned.

“We somehow managed to convince both of them to return to the village. I took my son and Swathi back to Atmakur. Srinivas took Swathi back home and Naresh and I returned to Mumbai,” Venkataiah says.

Soon after they returned to Mumbai, he adds, Naresh stopped eating and fell ill.

On April 1, Venkataiah received multiple calls from Srinivas asking if Naresh was at home. The next day, Srinivas finally told them that Swathi had again run away from her parental home, leaving behind a letter saying that she was going to Mumbai to be with Naresh.

Soon Naresh’s family found a similar letter too, in which Naresh said that he wanted to stay with Swathi and told his family not to look for them. After that, Naresh stayed out of touch with his family for nearly a month.

“When mother became worried and pleaded with him to meet, he decided to meet her outside the house.  He said they were happy and were staying in Mumbai in a rented room,” Neelima says.

Neelima made efforts to talk to her brother too, and on April 29, finally received a call from Naresh.

“He said that, he was working as a milk delivery boy in Mumbai, and that they were happy. I insisted that he should let me talk to Swathi once,” she says.

During that conversation, Neelima narrates, Swathi accepted that she was in touch with her father.

“She even claimed that her father told her come back, as he was ready to accept the marriage. She also said that Srinivas told her that he wants them to be happy and that he wanted to gift Naresh a car, five acres of land, and Rs 7 lakh in cash and gold, so that they can start a better life,” Neelima says.

While Naresh said that he had told Swathi that he did not want the dowry and wanted to stay in Mumbai, what he did not tell Neelima was that the couple had been planning to go to the village to meet Srinivas.

What happened on May 2

On May 2, Naresh told his sister that he had reached Hyderabad and would leave for Atmakur by the afternoon to meet his father-in-law.

“I was worried and scared. It was afternoon when he called. He said that Srinivas wanted to meet them after seven in the evening,” she claims.

Neelima last talked to her brother at 7.30pm that evening.

“He was distressed. He said that Srinivas came and took Swathi away with him and did not say anything to him. He was mostly silent and just said that he would spend the night at our relative’s place in the village,” Neelima recalls.

However, after 9pm, Naresh’s phone was switched off when Neelima tried to call him again.

Tragic end of the love story

Looking tired and worn down, Venkataiah says that he has not had a single night’s sleep in nearly a month.  For weeks, he spent each night tossing and turning, worrying about his missing son. And since they found out about Naresh’s death on Saturday, he has lain awake listening to his wife weep all night.

“I warned my son several times, that Srinivas will never accept the marriage, we belong to a backward class and he is a Reddy. But he did not listen to me,” says Venkataiah.

Venkataiah says that the family filed a missing person’s complaint at the Bhongir Town police station after failing to reach him for four days after May 2.

“We called Srinivas for questioning, but that time he said he did not know anything about where Naresh is and said he did not see him after that day, so we let him go,” Inspector M Shankar told TNM.

Venkataiah, however, alleges that police did not take the case seriously until he moved the High Court regarding Naresh’s continued absence.  

What gave added credence to their fears was that Swathi attempted to kill herself twice when she was summoned by the High Court. “We got the news on May 9 and May 12, that Swathi attempted suicide by consuming phenyl and was hospitalised. This was after, the High Court asked her to appear on May 18,” says Neelima.

The family alleged that the police had not made any efforts to question her regarding Naresh prior to her attempts at suicide.

“When we questioned Swathi she said that Naresh had left her at the Bhongir Town bus stand. She said that her father was innocent and she felt the police and the media were harassing him because of her,” asserts Inspector Shankar.

On May 16, Naresh’s family received the news that Swathi was found hanging in the bathroom at her home in Lingarajapalli village.  

To complicate matters, a few days later, a video of Swathi emerged, in which she said that she had returned home willingly as Naresh and his family had been harassing her for dowry.

“The video is suspicious. It was not a suicide, Srinivas has killed his daughter for honour. She talks about dowry, when she herself told me that her father wants to give money and land to Naresh. He was not even interested in that property and money. Swathi says that she willingly went back home. This is not true – a person who eloped twice with my brother saying that she cannot live without him, how could she suddenly feel it was a mistake? Srinivas forced his daughter to make that video, she does not even have a phone, she was using her father’s phone. He didn’t just murder my brother, but also his own daughter,” alleges Neelima.

After Swathi’s death, Naresh’s case was taken over by the LB Nagar Zone DCP M Venkateshwara Rao, on May 22. The DCP formed a team on May 24 and questioned Srinivas on May 25. Finally, on Saturday, Srinivas reportedly confessed that he had killed Naresh on the night of May 2.

Seeking justice

On Sunday and Monday, Naresh’s family conducted protests in Bhongir Town seeking justice for Naresh.

“My brother’s only fault was that he fell in love with an upper caste girl. What honour did he (Srinivas) gain by killing both the lovers. They would have lived happily,” cries Neelima.

Venkataiah is racked by the guilt that he could not protect his son or his daughter-in-law. “I have failed to protect both of them, but they deserved to get justice. I will fight for them. The investigation should not stop,” he says.

Edited by Rakesh Mehar.

 

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