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Crime
Dumbriguda Sub Inspector Aman Rao has allegedly been suspended for ‘negligence of duties’ and for failing to curb the violence that broke out after the killings.
  • Monday, September 24, 2018 - 12:10
Image: PTI

A day after a ruling TDP MLA and a former legislator of the party were gunned down allegedly by Maoists in Andhra Pradesh's Visakhapatnam district on Sunday, Dumbriguda Sub Inspector Aman Rao has been suspended over the incident.

DGP RP Thakur issued the suspension orders after 45-year-old Sarveshwar Rao and his party colleague and former MLA 52-year-old Siveri Soma, were shot dead near Livitiput village in Dumbriguda mandal.

Following the killings, tension prevailed in Araku constituency as relatives and supporters of slain leaders attacked two police stations. Accusing the police of failing to protect public representatives, the protestors ransacked Araku and Dumbriguda police stations and set the furniture and other articles at the police station on fire.

According to sources, the sub-inspector has been suspended for ‘negligence of duties’ and for failing to curb the violence that broke out after the killings.

When asked if there was a larger security lapse that could have led to the killings, Visakhapatnam Rural SP Rahul Dev Sharma told TNM, "We have initiated a departmental enquiry and appropriate action will be taken once the report is submitted."

The police also said that the two politicians visited the area without informing the concerned officers in Visakhapatnam, though they had been warned just a few days ago.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister N. Chinna Rajappa said that a probe will be conducted to ascertain as to how Maoists managed to attack the two leaders despite the fact that their activities were under control for the last 4-5 years.

The CPI-Maoist was believed to have considerably weakened in its former stronghold on the Andhra-Odisha border in recent years following intensive police operations by both the states.

Security stepped up across state

Following the killings, police are on high alert in Andhra-Odisha border area and public representatives have been advised not to visit interior villages.

Senior police officials reviewed the situation. Additional forces including personnel of anti-Maoist force Greyhounds were rushed to the region for combing operations.

The police said that the vehicle of the politicians was intercepted by a large group of Maoists, who snatched weapons from three security guards and tied them along with the driver to trees. They threatened them with dire consequences if they tried to escape or resist.

Swamy, one of the security guards, later told the media that the Maoists spoke to both the leaders for nearly an hour about their involvement in mining in agency area which is reportedly threatening the livelihood of tribal persons.

The TDP leaders suggested that the matter could be resolved peacefully. However, an argument ensued and the Maoists opened fire on them, killing them on the spot. Both were shot in the head and chest.

Deputy Inspector General of Police Ch. Srikanth said that the crime occurred between noon and 1 pm about 15 km from the Odisha border.

Both Rao and Soma had received threats from Maoists in the past. The public representatives in the region were alerted by the police to be cautious while moving into the interior villages in view of the formation week celebrations of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist till September 27.

 

 

Crime
The A4-size posters, printed in Telugu, bore three names of the supposed ‘next victims of Paruvu Hatya’ (honour killing).
  • Sunday, September 23, 2018 - 12:44
Image: Twitter/VenuLanka_TOI

A line of posters emblazoned with the words “honour killing”, which were posted on the walls at a few places in Vijayawada's Satyanarayanapuram area, especially in Sivalayam Street, caused panic among the residents and passersby, on Saturday. The A4-size posters, printed in Telugu, bore names of the next ‘victims of Paruvu Hatya’ (honour killing) - Soni, Rahu and Priya - all printed in bold Telugu letters.

The police were alerted immediately even as images of the poster began doing the rounds on social media and WhatsApp. The authorities launched a door-to-door inspection around the area where the posters were found, to identify the three people named in the posters.

There was also speculation that the names could be an indirect reference to Congress party leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, which only left the residents further perplexed.

The police checked CCTV footage from cameras in the area and also reached out to printing shops, where the accused may have taken a printout of the poster.

Speaking to TNM, an investigating officer from the Satyanarayanapuram police said, "After an investigation, we identified the sole miscreant behind this. He seems to be mentally unsound. He's more than 50 years old and unmarried and has random bouts of frenzy. We questioned him and enquired about the reason behind the posters."

According to the police officer, the suspect put up the posters in the spur-of-the-moment and did not harbour any bad intentions. “We warned him against repeating such an act and also counselled him. We are also planning to file a case. Since the matter is a non-cognizable offence, we will need to take the court's permission," he added.  

The posters had triggered such a row, as it had been posted a week after two caste killings in the neighbouring state of Telangana.

On September 14, 24-year-old Pranay was killed in Miryalaguda, Nalgonda district, in broad daylight, allegedly by an assailant, Subash Sharma, hired by his wife Amrutha’s father Maruthi Rao. The police said that Maruthi Rao opposed their marriage as Pranay was a Mala, while his family belonged to the Komati community (upper caste).

Days later, in a similar case, a man attacked his daughter Madhavi and son-in-law Sandeep with a machete in full public view in Hyderabad’s Erragadda area and grievously injured them. The entire incident was caught on camera.

20-year-old Madhavi has been battling for life while Sandeep also suffered grievous injuries. Sandeep’s family has alleged that Manoharachary was opposed to the marriage because they belonged to a Scheduled Caste community.

 

 

Policing
The village faced riots for days last year but was peaceful this year, after the police’s careful mix of enforcement and community partnership.
  • Sunday, September 23, 2018 - 10:58

In a heartening incident, the village of Utkoor in Telangana’s Mahbubnagar district, which witnessed violent communal clashes last year during Ganesh Chaturthi and Muharram, conducted the two festivals peacefully this year.

Last year, according to the police, 145 people were arrested and 23 cases had been booked, as people from both communities clashed for days, before authorities could stop the violence.

Many videos did the rounds on social media, which showed people from both the communities pelting stones and indulging in violence, despite the police officials at the spot trying to control the situation.

Speaking to TNM, Rema Rajeswari, Superintendent of Police, Mahbubnagar, said that the clashes took place due to some miscommunication.  

While the region was communally sensitive in the past, we managed to hold it peacefully. This year, the whole department was extra cautious because people still had fresh memories of the incident. We worked closely with the local community. We took lots of inputs from community elders and also made a few changes in the way festivities were conducted,” she said.

Rema said that the police’s plan was a careful mix of enforcement and community partnership.

“We started identifying all people who had cases on them and took them into custody 3 to 4 weeks in advance. We used the opportunity to tell them that this was a good time to rewrite the history of the place, which had been in the news for the wrong reasons,” Rema narrates.

Utkoor is a relatively small village and one of the most remote places in the district. Every year, people migrate to areas like Hyderabad and parts of Maharashtra like Mumbai and Pune, for work.

“Many who came back home last year to celebrate the festival had cases booked on them. We assured them that we would work with them and correct and undo any mistake that the police may have done, while also giving them the opportunity to undo what they did last year,” Rema says.

The major area where the violence had broken out, was the Jama Masjid in the region. Every year, as the Ganesh procession passes, it would stop outside the mosque for a while, where people would play loud music and dance. This, even as the ‘Azaan’ (call for prayer) would echo from the mosque.

"We asked the elders of the Muslim community to cooperate with us during Azaan in the morning and kept officers in civil clothes at the spot by duly respecting their sentiments. The entire structure of Jama Masjid was covered in a white cloth this time. While they initially refused, we told them that we trusted them, but there was a chance that colour could fall on the white mosque as the Ganesh procession passed by and we wanted to be cautious, and they agreed,” says Rema. 

The police also trained around 100 young men from the area, including 6 from Utkoor, to allay the fears of locals that outside force may get deployed.

A poster asking the town to cooperate, as DJs have been banned to curb noise pollution

Another important step that the police took, was that they held several meetings.

“Two days before the incident, we called community elders from the Hindu and Muslim side and we called all the youngsters in the area. We explained to the elders that the kids were looking up to them and that they should lead the way and promote harmony for the kids and not violence. We told them that we would help and do it together,” Rema says. 

“We also gave them opportunities to vent out their feelings. In the run up to the festivities, we gave the locals a mic during the meetings and let them get out all the pent-up feelings that they had,” she added.

Taking the case of one local, who had a communal sheet on him, Rema says, "He was the one who led the riot last year. I gave him the mic for around 45 minutes and he gave a huge speech. At the end of it, he said that it was a matter of pride for him that he was promising publicly, that he would lead the people to peace this year.”  

The police also realised that a lot of trouble last year, was instigated by outsiders who were originally natives of the village but had come from Hyderabad and Maharashtra. This time, they kept border check posts well in advance and checked the identity of everyone who entered the region.

Thanks to all this, locals ensured that every Ganesh idol in the village was moved fast on Friday and passed the mosque before 4 am, something which has never happened in the history of Utkoor.

“We had exactly one hour before the morning prayers at the mosque and we couldn't find anyone near the structure. Our Muslim police officers also joined the prayers and everything was conducted peacefully,” Rema states.  

On Saturday morning, the entire village came to meet the police officers and were all praise for them. Some locals even felicitated the officers who had reached out to them before the festivities. 

Last year, when Rema was the SP, she had worked closely with the ‘joginis’ and provided them with a dignified means of livelihood. In the Jogini system, parents ‘marry’ their daughters to the village deity and are sexually exploited by the local males.

Rema worked closely with one Hajamma, the convenor of the 'Jogini Vyavastha Vyethireka Porata Samiti (JVVPS)'.

“The locals ensured that Hajamma was by my side throughout the event and then they called all of us and gave us all mementos. All police officers are equally elated that we managed to conduct the two festivals peacefully this time,” Rema concludes.   

 

Caste
Asking Amrutha to be brave and stand her ground, Gowsalya and her lawyer met Amrutha.
  • Friday, September 21, 2018 - 13:08
Image Credit: Kartheek B

What happens to survivors of brutal caste crimes, when the criminal is their own family, and the victim is their own partner? A Dalit man, Shankar, was murdered by his wife’s family in Tamil Nadu in 2016; and in a similar hate-filled crime, another Dalit man, Pranay, has been killed by his wife’s father in Telangana.

On Friday, Shankar’s wife Gowsalya – who has been fighting for justice and whose family has been convicted for killing her husband – visited a grieving Amrutha at Pranay’s family’s residence in Miryalaguda in Nalgonda district, and expressed solidarity with the younger woman.

Gowsalya was accompanied by her lawyer and anti-caste activists. Asking Amrutha to be brave and to stand her ground, Gowsalya showed the video of Shankar's brutal murder on her phone. Amrutha asked how many people were punished and how they put up a fight, to which Gowsalya's lawyer explained the legal aspects of her case.

The lawyers also explained to Amrutha, how Gowsalya herself had objected to the bail petition of her parents in the Madras High Court 58 times, after Shankar's murder.

"What was the reason for the murder of your husband? Was it caste?" Amrutha asked. "Caste was the only reason," Gowsalya replied.

"I want all the seven accused in Pranay's murder also to hang and they should not get bail. Even if my uncle comes out, it will be harmful to me. They may even try to kill me or harm my baby," Amrutha told the gathering present at the house.

"Will you say all that happened to the court? Only then, they will get severe punishment," Gowsalya told Amrutha. "Yes, I will," Amrutha replied.

Gowsalya with Pranay's father

On March 13, 2016, Gowsalya, who was 19 at the time, stood helpless as three men hacked to death her husband, 22-year-old Shankar, on her father’s orders. The two had been married for 8 months against the wishes of her parents. Gowsalya’s family, who belonged to the dominant Thevar caste, had objected to her marrying Shankar, a Dalit. Gowsalya too had been hacked, but she survived the attack.

It has been two years since the tragic incident and Gowsalya is now an activist, fighting against caste and other societal injustices.

Pranay Kumar was hacked to death on September 14 when he was coming out of a hospital with his wife Amrutha Varshini, who is five months pregnant. The two had married in January. The police have arrested seven accused including Amrutha's father Maruthi Rao, who had struck Rs 1 crore deal for the contract killing, and her uncle, Sravan.

Last week, after the news of Pranay’s death came to light, Gowsalya reached out to Amrutha.

With inputs from Kartheek B.

Crime
As of noon, doctors said Madhavi was taken off the ventilator support, but would be kept under ICU observation for some more time.
  • Thursday, September 20, 2018 - 19:42

A day after the brutal attack on 20-year-old Madhavi and her husband Sandeep, the woman’s condition continues to remain serious, even as she was taken off ventilator support, doctors at Hyderabad’s Yashoda hospital said.

The police said that Madhavi’s father Manoharachari had called the couple under the pretext of buying new clothes for a wedding reception that had been planned. However, when they met him near Gokul Theatre in Hyderabad’s Erragadda, he took out a sickle from his bag and attacked them.

The couple was taken to Neelima Hospital by onlookers where Sandeep, who had sustained a deep gash to the cheek, was stabilised and later discharged. Madhavi on the other hand was in a far more critical condition, having been hacked on the neck and arms multiple times, and was shifted to Yashoda Hospital for further treatment. A team of 15 doctors tended to her on Wednesday night and she was taken up for an emergency surgery.

On Thursday morning, doctors at Yashoda hospital addressed the media and said that Madhavi remained in a critical condition and was kept under observation in the ICU on the ventilator and only after taking her off would they be able to assess her condition properly. Around noon she was taken off the ventilator and the team informed the media that she was responsive, but still not out of danger.

The doctors said that multiple surgeries were done; after they controlled the bleeding, they performed a surgery to reconstruct her facial nerve, blood vessels, ear and muscles. Then they performed another surgery to reconstruct blood vessels, nerve, tendons and muscles, and fix bones in her left hand. The last operation was conducted on the right hand, wherein her tendon and muscles were repaired.

A press release issued by the hospital stated that there was a deep laceration, measuring 15x5 centimeters, on the left side of her face which had split her ear and left a gash on her neck. There was also profuse bleeding of the carotid artery and multiple veins which were cut along with muscles of the neck.

Furthermore, doctors added that there was a near total amputation of her left arm and that her neurovascular bundles had been cut as well as two bones were fractured. They also said that there was a deep laceration on her right wrist, with cut tendons.

“Post-surgery, patient was kept on ventilator support and shifted to surgical ICU. Adequate packs of blood were given,” the release stated.

The team also said that Madhavi would continue to be under observation for some more time in order to ensure that she responds well to the treatment, stating that she was conscious and maintaining both a steady pulse rate and blood pressure. They also added that her haemoglobin levels had improved to 10.8 gms% from the 3 gms% at the time of admission.

“She needs ICU stay for further monitoring in view of multiple injuries. Major surgeries done. Multiple blood transfusions done, off from the ventilatory support from today afternoon,” the release stated.

According to police, Madhavi and Sandeep were in love for the past five years and wanted to get married. While Sandeep belongs to a scheduled caste, Madhavi's family (OBC) are goldsmiths by profession. The girl's family refused to accept the marriage but at the counselling conducted by the police they claimed to accept it. The father has since been arrested.

Also read: After two inter-caste couples attacked, activists call for a law against caste crimes

Crime
Doctors said that the gash on Madhavi’s face ran quite deep and that a few nerves, including the facial nerve, had been cut.
  • Thursday, September 20, 2018 - 12:08

Hours after the attack on 20-year-old Madhavi and 23-year-old Sandeep in Hyderabad’s Erragadda by the girl’s father, Madhavi remains in a critical condition post-operatively, doctors addressing the media at Yashoda hospital said on Thursday morning.

Vascular surgeon Dr Devender Singh, Orthopedic Surgeon Dr Sunil Dachepalli, and Plastic Cosmetic Surgeon Dr Babu J Navula, part of the team who tended to Madhavi, told the media that Madhavi is on ventilator.

“The girl was bleeding profusely and in a state of shock when she was brought in. Her blood pressure was very low around 60 to 70. She’s sustained several deep cuts to her neck. Several nerves supplying the head and neck region were also cut. She was bleeding a lot and we didn’t have much time. We did a simple CT scan and then took her up for an emergency surgery with a team of several doctors. As she was bleeding profusely, we had to control it as our first priority. Once that was achieved, we were able to attempt to focus on the other issues. Her hand was nearly completely amputated when she was brought it. We fixed the bone and repaired the nerve and artery, which were cut. We are hopeful that we will save her and that she will be able to use her hands for normal duties. 5 units of blood have been given, and her haemoglobin seems to be improving slowly. However, she is still critical and remains on ventilator,” stated one of the doctors.

The medical team further added that she had sustained a gash on her face which ran quite deep and that a few nerves, including the facial nerve, had been cut. The facial nerve is involved in a number of functions, including blinking and smiling. While doctors are confident that the nerve would heal, they remain unsure as to whether its functionality would return to full capacity.

“She’s on ventilator, only once we take her off ventilator support will we be able to thoroughly assess her condition. We are hopeful. She’s showing good improvement. There has been no further decline in haemoglobin. Her blood pressure is stable, and there is no evidence of any further bleeding at present in the neck or brain. Only in the next 48 hours will we be able to say anything for sure,” Dr Devender said.

Madhavi is currently in the ICU, and doctors said she will have to be under observation for another 2 to 3 days.

“Stage wise, she’s in recovery. Her situation remains critical, we will have to monitor and see. Her brain and spine have not been affected and she is responding to our comments, but is not yet fully conscious,” said another doctor.

Nerve injuries can be particularly tough, and it has yet to be determined how much recovery can be expected on that front. An estimated time of at least 4-6 weeks was given by doctors for any nerve recovery to take place. They further added that it would take time for proper nerve connections to be re-established, assuming that they healed.

Madhavi married Sandeep at an Arya Samaj temple in Alwal on September 14, though her family was opposed to the same on the grounds of caste and class. Her father, Manoharachari called up his daughter on Wednesday under the pretext of buying them clothes for the wedding reception, and asked her to meet him near Gokul Theatre in Hyderabad. When the couple reached, he took out a sickle and attacked Sandeep, who sustained a deep gash to his cheek, while Madhavi was hacked multiple times and sustained severe injuries.

Bystanders rushed the couple to Neelima Hospital, where Sandeep was stabilised. Madhavi was taken to Yashoda Hospital for further treatment, where she’s currently being monitored by a team of four doctors.

Caste
The attack on Madhavi and Sandeep comes days after a similar incident took place in which 24-year-old Pranay lost his life.
  • Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - 19:50

Hours after the attack on 21-year-old Madhavi and her husband 23-year-old Sandeep, Madhavi’s condition remains critical, doctors at Hyderabad’s Yashoda hospital told TNM.

A team of 15 specialists is currently monitoring and observing the 21-year-old who had been hacked with a sickle near a Hyundai showroom in Hyderabad’s Erragada, by her own father, Manoharachari. According to Sandeep's family, Manoharachari was angered by his daughter’s decision to marry Sandeep allegedly because he was from a different caste. While Sandeep belongs to a scheduled caste, Madhavi's family (OBC) are goldsmiths by profession.

The couple was rushed to Neelima hospital. Sandeep sustained a gash to the cheek and is stable now, however Madhavi was shifted to Yashoda hospital. “There have been multiple injuries and a lot of blood loss. The vessels supplying her brain have been cut and we are trying to control the bleeding first. There appears to be some clot formation also. We will have to take her up for an angiogram and CT scan to assess the complete extent of damage,” doctors at Yashoda hospital said.

Madhavi’s left hand suffered several grievous cuts, and is nearly amputated as per doctors, “Her hand was practically hanging by the skin when she was brought to us. We are focusing on trying to save her life first, that is what is important.”

While a few of Sandeep’s relatives came to the hospital to see the couple, it can’t be said with utmost certainty whether any of Madhavi’s family has come.

Speaking to TNM, Sandeep's uncle Venu said, "The couple got married around a week ago, later they told us about it from police station. And we accepted their marriage and they have been staying in Erragadda with our family. Everyday in the evening after getting drunk, Madhavi's father would come and terrorise us, saying that he'll throw bomb and give other threats, but in the morning he would act normal. In fact two days ago he came to our house again and asked to send their daughter back. We said that if the daughter is willing, she can, but Madhavi refused. We never thought that he would go to such an extent. We are equally shocked.”

He further added, “Though Chari would act normal in the morning, I always suspected his intentions, so I cautioned the couple against venturing out. But the girl was in constant touch with Chari, thinking that he would never harm her."

A number of activists have also gathered at the hospital. Noted womens’ rights activist Sandhya, from Pragathiseela Mahila Sangam, said that it seems to be a caste killing, “You can see the number of people who praised Amrutha’s father Maruti Rao for the action he took, this has brazened others to perform similar acts,” she said citing the murder of 24-year-old Pranay on September 14 in Miryalaguda.

Venu further stated that after the Miryalaguda incident, he had a hunch and asked the couple to not go out for a few days. However since Manoharachari was visiting daily and taking her into confidence, the couple decided to go, “Even today, if I would have known, I would have told them not to go, but the girl probably decided to go because her father called,” he said.

Crime
The accused, Vayalpad Circle Inspector Siddha Tejamurthy, has been harassing the woman for nearly a year, demanding sexual favours.
  • Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - 14:50

Accused of sexually harassing and attempting to rape a woman, Andhra Police suspended Vayalpad Circle Inspector Siddha Tejamurthy on Wednesday. The accused is currently absconding.

According to media reports, Murthy has been sexually harassing Sameera* for the last one year when she had approached the Vayalapad police station to file a complaint against her estranged husband, in February 2017. Murthy then took her contact number and had been sending her inappropriate messages through WhatsApp and later started asking for sexual favours.

On Monday, he even attempted to rape her. The victim said that the accused had called her on the pretext of meeting the Deputy Superintendent of Police at Madannapet, but he took her to his residence and tried to force himself on her. However, she managed to escape from his clutches. Despite this, he again harassed her to meet him at Tirumala, where he is presently on a bandobast duty.

Unable to bear his harassment anymore, the victim approached women rights activists and the media, who suggested a covert operation to catch him red-handed at Tirumala. However, learning about her plan, the Inspector avoided meeting her.

The victim shared the messages and voice clips of Murthy with the media, where he is heard persuading the woman to meet him at a private location and have a video call with him.

Following a formal complaint from the woman, the DIG issued suspension orders to the accused.

Speaking to the media, the victim said, ‘When I went to file a complaint against my husband, he told me that it was a civil case; but he soon started talking inappropriately, asking me why I would abandon my husband when I have ‘a good body structure and look young’.”

She added, “He then started making video calls in the night. After I stopped taking his calls, he once came home and threatened me, asking why I did not answer his calls or replied to his messages. When I told him that I will complain to the DSP about his misbehaviour, he said that they both hail from the same place and she would not get justice anywhere.”

*Name changed

Caste Killing
Multiple meetings between the five main accused, fake sim cards, an advance of Rs 16 lakh and a deal for Rs 1 crore, was all that led to the death of Pranay.
  • Tuesday, September 18, 2018 - 19:39

21-year-old Amrutha and Pranay had married in January this year against the wishes of her parents, but she was in constant touch with her mother, ever since she got pregnant.

Amrutha would tell her mother about how she was doing and the mother too would advise her to take good rest and eat timely meals. The mother, equally happy to get frequent updates, would pass on the same information to Amrutha's father, Maruthi Rao. But unknown to them, Maruthi Rao had been plotting Pranay's murder for months and used the information from the phone calls to trace Pranay's whereabouts.

The last fateful call was on September 13, a day before Pranay's murder and the eve of Vinayaka Chaturthi, when Amrutha informed her mother that she and Pranay were going to Jyothi hospital for a regular check-up. Amrutha's mother passed on the same information to Maruthi Rao. 

It was in this manner, that the date and location of the murder was set and months of planning culminated in a cold-blooded killing in broad daylight.  

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Nalgonda Superintendent of Police AV Ranganath detailed the conspiracy behind the crime. Multiple meetings between the five main accused at various places in the state, fake sim cards, an advance of Rs 16 lakh and a deal for Rs 1 crore, was all that led to the death of Pranay.  

The accused

In the FIR registered by Miryalaguda police, Maruthi Rao was named as Accused No 1, while the killer, Subash Sharma, was named as Accused No 2.  

The police said that Accused No 3, Asgar Ali - was an accused in earlier cases, as he was convicted by a court earlier in the murder case of former Gujarat Home Minister Haren Pandya, but was later acquitted. 

"Accused No 4 Mohammed Bari, a native of Nalgonda and a resident of Malakpet in Hyderabad, knew Amrutha's father Maruthi Rao since 2011 ever since he took his help in settling a land dispute," Ranganath said. 

The police said that Bari and Sharma had met in Rajahmundry while they were both serving time in prison for different crimes.

Accused No 5, Abdul Kareem, is a Transport Operator in Miryalguda, while Accused No 6 was Sravan, Maruthi's relative. Maruthi Rao's driver, Shiva,was named Accused No 7.

The police said that while Sravan and Shiva knew of the crime being hatched, it was the other five, who were the main accused.

The plan

"The murder plot began in June-July, when Bari and Maruthi Rao got into contact into each other and began talking over the phone. In the first week of July, Karim came into the picture and the plan to kill Pranay was hatched. The same was communicated to Bari and Asgar," Ranganath said.

The police said that Karim, Asgar and Bari later met frequently in Hyderabad and Nalgonda, to work out the execution of the plan. 

"In the first week of July, Asgar and Bari met in Nalgonda's Auto Nagar and later met Karim and Maruthi Rao. They sat in a car and spoke and began setting an amount for the murder. The demand was first for Rs 2.5 crore but they later settled for Rs 1 crore. While the killers asked for an advance of Rs 50 lakh, they settled on Rs 16 lakh.  The same day, they left in the car and showed Pranay's house to Bari and Asgar," Ranganath said.

The next important meeting was on July 9, when Karim took 16 lakh from Maruthi and left for Hyderabad from Miryalguda. The money was handed over to the others in a car near Ramoji Film City, the police said.  

Maruthi Rao was then informed that the advance had been received. Bari took Rs 8 lakh, while Asgar took Rs 6 lakh and Rs 1 lakh was taken by Karim from the advance, the police added.

Planning and execution

It was after the advance was given that the planning began. The police said that Bari bought a two-wheeler with a fake number plate and documents and three sim cards using bogus names, while Asgar bought three phones. 

"The first attempt to murder Pranay actually took place on August 14. They tried to corner the couple near a beauty parlour and thought they will kill Pranay over there. However, since another relative was present, they didn't understand which one of them was Pranay, and so they called it off. Bari, Asgar and Subash Sharma was there that day," Ranganath said.

Another crucial date according to the police was August 17, when the couple decided to hold a wedding reception.

"This had hurt Maruthi even more as it would become public that his daughter had done an inter-caste marriage and the entire town would know. So, he speeded up the process. Between August 16 to 23, he got admitted to a hospital in Hyderabad for an operation because he wanted to stay away from Miryalaguda," Ranganath added. 

In the first week of September, the police said that another plan was hatched to kidnap Amrutha and kill Pranay. Four people were hired from Hyderabad but seeing that they were alcoholics, Asgar called off the plan because they were 'not serious', the police said. 

On September 13, after the phone call between Amrutha and her mother, the police said that Maruthi informed Bari about the hospital visit, who in turn informed Asgar, who planned the crime with Subash. 

The murder

On September 14, Asgar travelled in an auto and met Subash at one point, following which the duo travelled together and followed the couple in a car. 

Asgar stayed a little distance away from the spot, giving directions to Subash, who then executed the murder. 

The police said that Maruthi had left to Nalgonda two hours before the murder, to create an alibi at the Joint Collectorate in the town. 

"Near Vemulapally, he stopped his car and simply tried to strike up an unnecessary conversation with some officials at the government office, to show that he was not present at the murder spot. However, it did not work out for him," the police Superintendent said. 

The police also said that Bari was not in Miryalaguda on the day of murder and he left for the outskirts of Hyderabad. After receiving Asgar's call that the job was done, he conveyed the same to Maruthi Rao. 

Asgar was also set to receive the rest of the money after this. 

Post-murder

After committing the crime, the police said that Subash even changed his shirt when he crossed the Miryalaguda flyover bypass and took a different route from the one they had taken to arrive at the hospital. 

"They used a different escape route through Nagarjunsagar road to Nalgonda, before they abandoned the car at a government hospital. Subash then left to Bengaluru from where he took a bus to Patna. All this is corroborated with various agencies and we could successfully crack the case soon and catch all the accused," Ranganath told the media. 

"The original plan was for Maruthi Rao to surrender, along with Subash, so that the other three accused would slowly dissociate themselves from the crime. However, as their names started getting flashed on TV, they got worried and switched off their phones. Despite all this, we managed to nab all of them from different places over the course of four days with the help of CCTV footage and technical evidence," he added.

The police also said that Maruthi Rao would only be in contact with Bari and Kareem would facilitate the conversation, ensuring that there was no direct contact with Asgar and Subash. 

The accused have been booked under sections 302 (Murder), 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention), 120b (Party to a criminal conspiracy) read with 109 (Abetment) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and Section 3(2)(v) of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

"Maruthi's pride was hurt because an inter-caste marriage took place, so SC/ST Act will apply here. I also don't agree with the term 'honour killing' as some activists have rightly pointed out. Honour from caste is not right. You can't see honour in this. In fact, he (Maruthi) has lost his honour now and that's how we should see it," Ranganath concluded. 

 

With inputs from Charan Teja

Accident
When asked if the accident was a result of a brake failure, as it was being speculated, the senior IPS officer said that it was pending investigation.
  • Wednesday, September 12, 2018 - 10:52
Image: PTI

A dangerous shortcut and an overcrowded bus were among the many factors that seem to have led to the tragic accident that killed 57 people in Telangana. The bus fell off the Kondagattu Ghat Road while returning from the Anjaneya Swamy temple atop Kondagattu Hills, 190 km from the state capital, Hyderabad.

T Krishna Prasad, the DGP and Chairman of the Road Safety Authority, Telangana, who visited the spot and conducted a preliminary investigation, told TNM that multiple accidents have taken place on the ghat road.

"It is a 2 km long ghat road. There were three locations where accidents have taken place in the past two decades, involving deaths. The smallest accident saw 3 casualties and barring the present event, the biggest one resulted in around 14 casualties."

"The incident happens to be a combination of different factors. The first one was overloading, as the bus had more than 86 passengers, while its capacity was only 60. The road itself was not safe in the sense that the gradient is too high, particularly for a heavy vehicle that was coming down," he added.

The official also said that most of the accidents that had taken place on the ghat road occurred when the vehicles were coming down.

"There are sharp covers and ditches in 5 to 6 places. There is another road which is about 10 km longer, but people take this road as a shortcut," Prasad said.

"In fact, the local authorities had put height restricting barricades to discourage RTC buses and trucks from travelling on this particular road, but maybe due to local demand and public pressure, it was removed a few years ago," he added.

When asked if the accident was a result of a brake failure, as it was being speculated, the senior IPS officer said that it was pending investigation.   

"Eyewitnesses said that the driver appeared to be struggling with the brake right before the accident. Unfortunately, even though the accident took place, the driver has saved many lives as he dodged an auto and some people crossing the road," Prasad said.

"When we look at the accident spot as well, it was around 150 metres from when he first lost control. You generally don't require so much space to bring your vehicle under control, if it is functioning well," he added.

When asked about the future course of action, Prasad said, "We have instituted a crash resolution team consisting of officials from all departments including Police, Revenue, Transport, RTC and Roads and Buildings (R&B). All of them will now sit and work out what happened and how it could have been prevented."

"A short-term plan and long-term plan will be in drafted and the former will come into immediate effect. The short-term plan will include construction of barricades, signage, counselling of all drivers, seizing of vehicles which are unfit and other such measures," he said.

Meanwhile, the state government suspended an official of the state road transport corporation and ordered an inquiry.

Expressing shock over the accident, Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao announced Rs 5 lakh and the TSRTC announced Rs 3 lakh as ex-gratia for the families of the deceased.