Ahead of the Dubbaka bye-elections scheduled to be held in Telangana on November 3, the local police carried out searches at the homes of three relatives of the BJP candidate Raghunandan Rao. The searches, however, ended in high drama as the MLA’s supporters were seen on camera assaulting the police. Police have alleged that supporters looted Rs 12.80 lakh rupees from the total Rs18.67 lakh cash seized by officials from the house of Surabhi Anjan Rao, Raghunandan’s relative. Unprecedented scenes played out at Dubakka as the supporters fled the spot with the cash. Many BJP supporters have however alleged that the police were trying to plant the cash and the supporters caught them red handed.
Siddipet Police Commissioner Joel Davis addressed the media and said that around 20 to 30 supporters of Raghunandan Rao, all believed to be members of the Bharatiya Janata Party, who had gathered along with around 250 others upon hearing of the raids, snatched away Rs 12.80 lakh from the officials. “We have video evidence and based on that identification and legal action will follow.”
A video shows a policeman holding a bag in his hands, and soon the crowd around him turns violent. As his colleagues try to control the crowd, a few in the mob assault two policemen and demand to know what was inside the bag. As soon as the bag is opened, one person manages to take a bundle of cash from the bag and shouts ‘it’s money, it’s money’. Soon more people can be seen coming near the police, assaulting them and running away, holding up wads of money and shouting ‘take money, take money.’
Addressing the media, Siddipet Commissioner Joel Davis said, “We got information today that voters were being influenced with money. We identified these places and the searches were led by Siddipet Executive Magistrate with police assistance. Three places were searched. Siddipet Municipal Chairman Raja Narsa’s house, Surabhi Ramgopal and Surabhi Anjan Rao’s houses were also searched. In Surabhi Anjan Rao’s house Rs 18.67 lakh was found. He claimed his brother-in-law Jithender Rao had sent the money to him. Surabhi Ramgopal is the father-in-law of Dubakka bye-poll candidate Raghunandan Rao and Surabhi Anjan Rao is Raghunandan’s relative. When the money was being brought out, around 20-30 members entered the compound and snatched away Rs 12.80 lakhs. We have video evidence and based on that identification and legal action will follow.
The raids were carried out after the police received information that voters were being influenced with money, the commissioner said. The raids were carried out on the homes of Siddipet Municipal Chairman Raja Narsa’s house, and the homes of Surabhi Ramgopal, who is the father-in-law of Dubakka bye-poll candidate Raghunandan Rao, as well as another relative, Surabhi Anjan Rao. From Surabhi Anjan Rao’s house, Rs 18.67 lakh was found. He has claimed his brother-in-law Jithender Rao had sent the money to him.
According to Raghunandan Rao’s wife Manjula, a group of 10-12 people came into their house to conduct the raids. She said, “Around 10:30 am, a lady constable came to our place in uniform. There were others along with her who were not in uniform. They didn’t even produce a search warrant. They claimed they had information and that they had to search the house. They barged inside and began opening cupboards. They just told us that they have information from superiors.”
While the Telangana unit of the BJP has strongly condemned the police raids, they have not spoken about the violence outside the candidate’s relative’s house. BJP MLC N Ramachander Rao termed the police raids as a political vendetta. “The TRS party is already staring at a defeat in the bye-poll and hence they are using the police in fear of defeat. Police highhandedness was on full display to create fear in the minds of party workers.”
Rao reiterated that party candidate Raghunandan Rao would win the seat with a thumping majority as the people are fed up with the functioning of the state government. He also claimed that the people are determined to teach the TRS party a lesson.
Earlier this month on October 5, the Cyberabad cops had intercepted a vehicle and had intercepted cash to the tunes of Rs 40 lakhs. Four people were apprehended. The money was allegedly meant to be distributed by Raghunandan Rao ahead of the elections.