Hyderabad: A local leader of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and two others were arrested in connection with the gruesome daylight killing of the lawyer couple on Wednesday. The TRS suspended the leader concerned as advocates across the state staged protests.
TRS Manthani mandal unit president Kunta Srinivas, along with another person allegedly attacked Gattu Vaman Rao and his wife P.V. Nagamani on Wednesday as he bore some personal grudge, police said, ruling out as of now any political reason behind the killing.
According to police, hours before the crime, Srinivas had attended a programme in Manthani in the Peddapalli district to take part in chief minister K. Chandrasekar Rao’s birthday celebrations.
Vaman Rao and his wife, both practicing lawyers in the Telangana high court, were travelling in a car when the assailants intercepted the vehicle and attacked them using knives and other sharp weapons on a main road in Peddapalli disitrict, with the incident drawing widespread condemnation.
During his last moments as he lay on the road in the pool of blood, Vaman Rao had named the TRS leader as being responsible for the attack. Vaman Rao’s family members have also alleged that a local TRS leader was behind the gruesome act.
During the course of the investigation, Srinivas and two others have been arrested, police said.
Srinivas was among the two who carried out the attack and both fled the spot after the incident, and later they dumped the sharp weapons and their blood-stained clothes in a barrage, police said.
Srinivas and another accused were arrested from the Maharashtra border, inspector general of police (north zone) Y. Nagi Reddy told reporters here.
Srinivas had certain differences with Vaman Rao and he hatched the conspiracy to kill him and his wife, the IGP said.
During the interrogation, it was revealed that the accused bore a grudge following differences regarding the construction of a temple and a house in Gunjapadugu village, the senior police official said.
The TRS announced the suspension of Srinivas. “The disciplinary action comes into effect immediately,” TRS general secretary M. Srinivas Reddy said in a release.
In a related development, the Telangana State Human Rights Commission (TSHRC) on Thursday sought a report from the state director general of police (DGP) by March 10 over the gruesome murder of the lawyer couple.
The commission took suo motu cognisance of media reports about the killings.
“Such types of crimes need to be curbed by the law and order maintaining agency with all its efforts otherwise the society does not have peace at all. It is the duty of the state to identify and have a watch in all its areas where crime zones are there, which are prone to such types of incidents,” it said.
The panel said it feels very bad about the manner in which the incident occurred.
The lawyer couple had moved the high court in September last year complaining that police were harassing and threatening them after they wrote a letter (which was taken up as PIL) to the court over alleged custodial death of a man under Manthani police station.
The couple had also filed PILs on various public issues in different courts, including in the high court.
Condemning the killing of the advocate couple, lawyers held protests here and some other places in the state on Thursday.
They appealed to the government to set up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the double murder and prosecute the accused in a fast-track court. They also demanded that the perpetrators be given stern punishment.
Meanwhile, a bandh was observed by different political parties except for the TRS party in Manthani town on Thursday. Police said the bandh was partial and peaceful.
The incident which has sent shockwaves across the state has seen Congress and the BJP leaders demanding a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
According to various reports, Congress MP and former party state chief Uttam Kumar Reddy pointedly asked the chief minister KCR as to why adequate security was not provided to the deceased couple, in the wake of security threat, and even after the Telangana high court had ordered the state government to do so.
“In his dying declaration, Vaman Rao named TRS Manthani Mandal president Kunta Srinivas. The couple was murdered by TRS sand mafia for raising their voice against the custodial killing of a Dalit person, Seelam Rangaiah on May 25, 2020. Chief minister Chandrasekhar Rao’s silence is deafening and only a CBI inquiry will bring out the truth,” News 18 quoted Reddy as saying.
The BJP, for its part, has sought the suspension of Ramagundam police commissioner V. Sathyanarayana and the ACP for failing to assess the situation as they were prejudiced towards the victims and were acting under pressure from the culprits who are part of the ruling TRS.
“Those fighting against the state government are being silenced like this. Instead of safeguarding people, even a section of police officers too have been conniving with the ruling party in such violent attacks on critics,” BJP state president Bandi Sanjay has been quoted as saying by News 18.
(With PTI inputs)