After spending many years in jail for a crime he did not commit, Ayesha Meera rape and murder accused Satyam P Babu was acquitted by the Hyderabad High Court on Friday. Reacting to the verdict, AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi told TNM that he was not surprised at the judgement.
"Her parents have been repeating for years that the real culprit has not been caught. I also believe that they have been right all this while," Owaisi says.
Since Babu was convicted in the case by a women's special court in Vijaywada in 2010, Ayesha's parents have been alleging that Babu was merely a scapegoat to protect more influential people, who are the real culprits.
Babu suffers from GB syndrome, a condition in which the body's immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system. The condition has rendered him physically disabled and he can no longer walk without help.
The High Court also directed the Andhra Pradesh government to award Rs 1 lakh as compensation to Babu.
However, Owaisi says that the compensation amount does not matter. "It does not matter if the compensation is Rs 1 lakh or 1 crore. He (Babu) will not get back the time lost in the years of imprisonment."
"The real question is, who can be held responsible for the botched investigation," he adds.
Owaisi also says that his party would demand that action be taken against the persons responsible for not carrying out the investigation properly.
There have been allegations against former Deputy Chief Minister Ranga Rao's grandson Koneru Satish and his involvement in the crime. While Satish had rubbished talk about his involvement, Owaisi says that it should have been looked into at that time.
"The investigators should have looked into it. They should have asked the questions. Justice has not been done," Owaisi says.
Years ago, Owaisi had been actively involved in protesting against the way things had gone in Ayesha's case.
He had taken Ayesha's father Syed Iqbal Basha to meet the then Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajashekara Reddy. Basha told Mohn Ismail Khan for Two Circles then that Reddy had allegedly offered him Rs 75,000 and asked him to leave the matter.
According to Basha, Reddy had claimed that the murder had been due to "an unholy love affair" between Ayesha and her uncle.
Owaisi had also addressed a dharna in 2008, criticising the police for being unable to nab the real culprits. He had even called the police commissioner CV Anand, and asked for details of the case.
The victim was a first-year pharmacy student and was living in a private ladies hostel in Ibrahimpatnam near Vijayawada. On the night of December 27, 2007, her blood-stained body was found in the hostel's bathroom, with multiple stab injuries.
In August 2008, almost a year after the victim was killed and the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) took up the case, the police arrested Satyam Babu.
Satyam Babu was arrested in a cell phone robbery case on August 17 that year, and the police had claimed that he had confessed to her murder during interrogation.
However, several activists had alleged that the police arrested Satyam Babu only so they could let the grandson of former deputy CM Koneru Ranga Rao off the hook.
The parents of the victim, Shamshad Begam and Iqbal Basha, also alleged that relatives of the then state Minister Koneru Ranga Rao were involved in the rape and murder.
They also alleged that a Dalit youth is being made a scapegoat to save the real culprits.
Ranga Rao had then denied these allegations. He told the media that he would not stop the killing of his grandson in an encounter, even if there was an iota of evidence to show that he was the â€śdemonâ€ť who raped and murdered the girl.
In September 2010, the sessions court convicted Satyam Babu to 14 years in under section 302 of IPC for murder and 10 years of rigorous imprisonment under section 376 of IPC for rape.
Reversing the conviction, the Hyderabad High Court has asked the police to 'punish those who framed him'.