It was a scene of chaos at Prem Nagar in Hyderabad’s Erragadda area, as a large number of people flocked to a tiny house on Thursday morning. The house, which looks like any other in the colony, would have been indistinguishable if not for the crowd. An asbestos sheet for a roof and lack of furniture to offer guests in their house reflect the economic conditions of the residents.
Within the crowded house, this reporter manages to squeeze through people and reach a dark room, where 21-year-old B Sandeep sits on a cot, quietly nodding his head as people expressed their solidarity.
“I never expected that he would attack Madhavi,” he says, as he breaks down. Sandeep’s wife, 20-year-old Madhavi, is battling for her life at Yashoda hospital in the city, after an attack by Manoharachari, her own father. What has shaken many people in the city is that the incident occurred in Erragadda, one of the busiest areas in Hyderabad.
The police said that Manoharachari was opposed to the marriage and tried to kill his daughter in a fit of rage, because she had disobeyed his wishes. The accused had called the couple and asked them to meet him. As soon as he reached the meeting point, he took out a sickle from his bag and attacked them. The chilling incident was caught on CCTV cameras.
However, at Sandeep’s house, many say that they did not expect such an extreme reaction by Manoharachari. Madhavi and Sandeep were in a relationship for the last five years and had married on September 12, at Alwal. The wedding is yet to be officially registered.
Sandeep’s mother, Ramadevi, says that she never expected that Chari had such deep hatred. “He would call me Akka (sister). He proposed for a wedding dinner, since the wedding happened at some obscure temple. He even told me to take good care of Madhavi, since she has some health issues. He bought medicines and eye drops for her. Once, he even said that since Madhavi didn’t bring any of her belongings like ear rings and other jewellery, he told us we should go shopping. He spoke such sweet words, only to betray and attack my son.”
While West Zone DCP AR Srinivas denies a caste angle in the attempt to murder, Ramadevi affirms, "It is a caste crime. Even after getting married, the couple first went to the police station and both sides of the family were called. The girl's mother and her relatives said, ‘Didn't you get any other groom? You could find only a Mala boy?’"
Ever since the wedding, Sandeep’s family said that Manoharachari would visit twice a day; once before he left to work, and once in the evening.
Though Madhavi’s relatives snapped ties with her on September 12, at least 20 of them came to Sandeep’s place on Sunday at 6pm.
“For nearly three hours, both sides got into a heated argument. During this, Madhavi’s mother Vijayalakshmi said, ‘Look how your father has become. He will kill you if you continue to be here.’ She even threatened to kill herself. I never thought that they would do what they said,” says Subashini, Sandeep’s cousin.
The police say that Manoharachari had been drinking for days before the murder, as he was deeply disturbed by his daughter’s decision. However, it was on Tuesday, a day before the murder, that Sandeep’s family said that he was heavily inebriated.
Despite all this, the family never thought that he would actually attempt murder.
“He was good with us. He would tell us that we can go shopping, since we were newly-wed, I thought that his intentions were good and never suspected that something like this would happen. I don’t even want to recall that horrific incident. It gives me a nightmare,” a traumatised Sandeep says.
“At around 1.30 pm on Tuesday, he came in a heavily inebriated state to the house and refused to leave. Since the couple had to leave for a movie, he also eventually decided to leave,” Ramadevi narrates. This was a day before the murder.
On Wednesday morning, Manoharachari skipped his regular visit and didn’t turn up, but nobody in the family found it suspicious. That same afternoon, he called the couple and asked them to meet him near Gokul theatre, the spot where he would try to kill his daughter.
The police said that the accused managed to steal a sickle from a coconut vendor and made his way to the crime scene in an intoxicated state. He then parked his vehicle next to them and proceeded to attack them with the sickle, which he had concealed in his bag.
The police have registered a case under Section 307 (Attempt to murder) and relevant sections of the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Meanwhile on Thursday, several relatives, neighbours and Dalit leaders continued to visit the residence of Sandeep even as the media was present. National SC Commission member K. Ramulu also visited Sandeep and assured him of a stable job after taking a written complaint. Madhavi continues to be on ventilator support and doctors say that they will observe her for the next 48 to 72 hours.