Having killed daughter's stalker, father tries to salvage family

news Monday, April 20, 2015 - 05:30
Vallabha Rao is a frail looking man. Clothed in a purple shirt with a towel around his shoulders, he stands in the lobby of a private hospital at Kukatpally in Hyderabad. As I approach him, he looks up and knows what I have come for. We say hello to each other, and as we move to a corner, he starts narrating his tale. “One day I’m a regular watchman and the next day I have someone’s blood on my hands. Things have happened so fast that I am still trying to absorb everything,” says Rao, with an apparent ease, having narrated the same story several times to the police and media. A few days back, 60-year-old Rao had killed another man with his own hands. Rao is free, because he had saved his family by killing his daughter’s stalker, Mallesh, who had attempted to kill the entire family after his proposal for marriage was rejected by Rao’s daughter. In the early hours of April 17, Rao walked in to his house to find his daughter, wife and nephew on the floor in a pool of blood, and Mallesh brandishing a sickle in his direction. “I was horrified by what I saw. This surge of energy rushed through me as I saw my family lying there. He tried to attack me too, but slipped on the blood and fell down. I snatched his sickle from him and killed him with one blow to his neck.”   (Rao recounts his experience) It took a moment for Rao to comprehend what had happened, before he made frantic calls for an ambulance and the police. “I did not even realize he was dead when he fell down. My only priority was to save my daughter and my family.” Rao also has an injury on his right palm. “It happened when I snatched the sickle from him,” he says, pointing to the scars. Rao’s daughter Neeraja Krishnaveni (25) is still in the ICU while his wife Tulasamma (58) and nephew Durga Gangadhar (24), who were severely injured, are out of danger. “Krishnaveni received deep cut injuries on her left hand, arm, chest and head. My mother got hit on the head and Gangadhar got deep wounds on his hand, neck and fingers,” says Venkatalakshmi, one of Rao’s two other daughters, who is in the hospital with him to help him out.  Rao was a daily wage agricultural worker in Samalkota town in East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh. After marrying off two of his daughters, he moved to Hyderabad a few years ago and started working security jobs. Now he works as a watchman for the Mayur fan company in the Prashant Nagar industrial estate in Kukatpally. Mallesh, was a native of the Chevella mandal in Ranga Reddy District and had been living in Moosapet, a few kilometers away from Rao’s house. He was working as a distributor and promoter of mobile phones at a store in the Kukatpally Housing Board Colony (KPHB). (Mallesh alias Raju) “The boy had approached me and my wife once before and said that he wanted to marry my daughter. He had also asked my daughter directly last year, but my daughter also said that she was not interested in him,” says Rao. Rao’s daughter Krishnaveni worked at a store in the same shopping complex as Mallesh, which is where he had seen her and started following her. “He kept harassing my daughter and would follow her home sometimes. He had even threatened that he would murder her if she didn’t marry him, which is what he actually tried to do on Friday,” Rao adds.  Later, Rao started to look for a groom for Krishnaveni from his native village. “That is probably what triggered the extreme action he took,” he says. The police have not booked a case against Rao. The polce say that there is no case registered as he acted in self defence and did not intend to kill Mallesh. Meanwhile, Krishnaveni is recovering slowly. “If things go well, we will shift her out of the ICU by Tuesday morning,” says Dr Satish Kumar of Remedy Hospitals, where the family members are undergoing treatment. The doctors had earlier planned to shift Krishnaveni out of the ICU on Monday after keeping her under observation for 3 days. Rao’s brother and two other relatives also rushed to Hyderabad, from their native place as soon as they heard the news. “We were shocked by what we heard. We come from a very simple family and we never got involved in anything like this. We caught a bus and came as quickly as possible,” says Rao’s brother. (Rao, his brother and another nephew) The family’s trouble are far from over. “We have brought them here just because their life is valuable to us. We are really having trouble paying the bills. Look at us. Do we look like someone who can afford such a nice hospital?” asks Venkatalakshmi, one of Rao’s other daughters. Rao earns a salary of Rs 6,000 per month. “Neither my employer or anyone else has come out to help me with this situation,” he says. "We have some tough times ahead of us but hopefully we will manage," he says. “We have all pooled in our money and valuables and we will be able to pay the bills for now but we would really appreciate if anyone would help us out,” says Venkatalakshmi.  
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