VIJAYAWADA: Three of a family, father and two sons, were gunned down in broad daylight while they were going in a car at Peda Avutapalli on the national highway No. 16 between Gannavaram and Eluru near here on Wednesday.
Old rivalry is said to be the reason for the attack which took place when the victims were going to attend court in connection with a murder case in which two of them were accused. The assailants, suspected to be hired killers, reportedly came in an SUV and hit the victims’ Tavera vehicle pinning it between their SUV and the road median. Later, three of them got down from the SUV and opened fire from point blank range. The attackers first targeted Gandham Nageswara Rao (55) and his son Pagidi Maraiah (35) who were sitting in the second row killing them instantly. Later, they pumped bullets into Maraiah (39), another son of Nageswara Rao, sitting in the front seat. Maraiah later died of bullet wounds while being treated at a private hospital in Vijayawada. The assailants are said to have fled towards Eluru. The taxi driver managed to escape unhurt and later surrendered at the One Town Police Station in Eluru.
On being tipped off by passersby, the police rushed to the spot and cordoned off the area which is about 28 km from Vijayawada. Eight bullets were recovered from the scene of offence. According to the police, the victims were from Pinakadimi village of Pedavegi mandal in West Godavari district. Pagidi Maraiah and Maraiah were accused of killing the owner of JK Palace lodge in Eluru, Durga Rao. The deceased were travelling to Eluru from Gannavaram airport to attend a court hearing in the case when they were attacked around 10 am. Vijayawada police commissioner AB Venkateshwara Rao said old rivalry is suspected behind the murders.
The victims had a family feud with Durga Rao who was killed in April in Eluru. Pagidi Maraiah and Maraiah had been arrested earlier in the murder case and were later released on bail. The victims were Jangams and had been practising astrology.