Expelled TRS leader Kunta Srinivas, who is the main accused of murdering high court advocates G Vaman Rao and his wife Nagamani, was on Thursday arrested by Telangana Police. Srinivas was arrested along with two others from Maharashtra's Chandrapur, where they were in hiding for more than 24 hours.
Hours before, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi has sacked Srinivas from the party. Srinivas was named by Vaman Rao in his dying declaration, while he was bleeding on the road after being brutally stabbed by professional killers in the outskirts of Hyderabad on February 17.
Very shocking ! Advocate Vaman Rao along with his wife were brutally murdered at the behest of ruling party leaders in Peddapalli District of Telangana. Its a state sponsored "political murder". This incident reflects the total failure of law & order situation in Telangana. pic.twitter.com/NTJyCMFSFQ — Komatireddy Venkat Reddy (@KomatireddyKVR) February 17, 2021
Calling it a "revenge crime", the Ramagundam Police said that Srinivas and the deceased couple have had a history of disputes since the last five years. The latest tussle between both the parties was over the construction of a temple in their village. Srinivas and another accused Vasantha Rao, an influential local leader hailing from Gunjapadugu village, wanted to build a temple on a government land, but Vaman Rao and his wife Nagamani filed court cases to stop them from encroaching public land.
"The murder was pre-planned, Srinivas hired professional killers who followed the couple who were on their way to Hyderabad. They tracked them down, blocked their vehicle and stabbed them to death in the middle of the road. The accused confessed that the motive behind the murder was a series of legal cases filed against him by the deceased couple," said Inspector General Nagi Reddy.
According to police, before joining the TRS, Srinivas was a member of Sikasa, a political organisation affiliated to CPI(Maoist). He also has a history of criminal cases against him that includes extortion and vandalism of public property.
The brutal murder of Telangana High Court advocates has sent shockwaves across the State with both Congress and BJP clamouring for a CBI probe. Sharpening his attack on Chief Minister Chandrasekhar Rao, Congress MP Uttam Kumar Reddy questioned why adequate security wasn't provided to the advocate couple despite the Telangana HC directing 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, Seelam Rangaiah on May 25, 2020. Chief Minister Chandrasekhar Rao's silence is deafening and only a CBI inquiry will bring out the truth," Reddy said.
Meanwhile, in a strongly worded letter to Telangana DGP, the BJP has sought the suspension of Ramagundam Police Commissioner V Sathyanarayana and 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", State BJP President Bandi Sanjay said.
Ten of Srinivas's associates have been taken into custody and three high-level teams have been set up to probe into the twin murders.
Meanwhile, lawyers across the State have hit the streets demanding stringent punishment for the killers.
"We urge the government to enact the Advocate Protection Act immediately to safeguard our community in our fight for justice", G Venkatesham of the Bar Association of the Nampally Criminal Court said.
Complaint Against Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao
Two independent advocates have also lodged a complaint against Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao for allegedly deriding lawyers and indirectly inciting violence against them. In her letter, the complainant cited an incident where a female lawyer was viciously trolled on social media because Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had slammed her for allegedly stalling government projects through false cases.
"By publicly shaming advocates, CM KCR has indirectly instigated TRS cadres to indulge in such gruesome acts. The Chief Minister's comments in the past occasion amounts to abetment to conspiracy which led to the murders of Vaman Rao and PV Nagamani," advocate SJ Goud said.
The Telangana High Court has sought a detailed report from the ruling TRS government over the horrific murder. The HC bench led by Telangana Chief Justice Hima Kohli set March 1 deadline to wrap up the investigation.