VIJAYAWADA: Unable to bear the shock of the gruesome murder of his 10-year-old daughter two days after she was kidnapped, a top Andhra Pradesh businessman died of a cardiac arrest Tuesday morning.
Palagani Prabhakara Rao, who was in the liquor, real estate and finance business and was a leader of a backward class organisation, collapsed in Vijayawada Monday evening after hearing the news of his daughter's killing. Doctors said he had two cardiac arrests and died at a private hospital Tuesday morning.
"There is huge public anger over the killing of innocent girl. I heard men and women in TV debates asking the government as to why the murderers can't be killed in an encounter," Chief Minister K. Rosaiah told reporters.
The chief minister, who said family feud could be the motive, announced that a fast track court be would set up for speedy trial in the case. "We can't follow the routine process to punish these murderers who have put even the devil to shame."
The body of Class 4 student Naga Vaishnavi was found in a boiler of a foundry on the outskirts of Guntur town, about 50 km from Vijayawada, Monday evening. She had been kidnapped in Vijayawada Saturday by three unidentified men while she was on her way to school in a car. The car driver was stabbed to death.
Rao's 14-year-old son Sai Tejesh, who was in the car too, managed to escape. The attackers fled in the car with Vaishnavi.
Police suspect that the abductors murdered the girl before throwing her into an electric boiler used to melt iron scrap to make bolts and nuts. Police could only recover charred remains of the girl. Naga's body was identified with the diamond ring she was wearing being found in the boiler.
It was double tragedy for Vaishnavi's mother Narmada, who fell unconscious and was rushed to hospital.
The tragedy plunged Vijayawada into gloom with shops and business establishments downing shutters. Hundreds of people including leaders cutting across party lines queued up at Rao's residence to pay tribute.
Police have picked up few suspects including Venkata Rao, the brother of Prabhakara Rao's first wife. Police said the culprits threw the body into boiler to wipe out any evidence. The foundry belonged to a relative of Venkata Rao.
According to Rosaiah, the businessman had not provided any information to police about the family feud or the suspects.
Vaishnavi was earlier abducted in 2004 by some unidentified people but the couple had not cooperated with the police and got her released by paying ransom to the abductors. "Perhaps he might have thought this time too he can secure her safe release," Rosaiah said.
According to some local reports, Venkata Rao was reportedly worried that Venkataramanamma's son would not inherit Prabhakara Rao's property and hired killers to kidnap and murder both the children.
Venkataramanamma, however, has denied her involvement in the tragedy.
Besides the chief minister, several ministers, leader of opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu, actor-turned-politician K. Chiranjeevi, Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) leader K. Chandrasekhara Rao and others have expressed shock over the killing of the girl and tragic death of her father.