VIJAYAWADA: A 60-year-old 'healer' was lynched by a mob of nearly 40 people for allegedly murdering a woman who resisted his sexual advances in Kanepalle village under Jarugumalle police limits of Prakasam district late on Sunday night.
According to police, the woman V Vijaya Lakshmi alias Vijayamma, 42, was a labour contractor. On Sunday, around 7.30 pm, she went to Vaddepalem in Kanepalle village to mobilise farm hands for Monday morning's agricultural work.
Once done with her work, Vijayamma visited the house of 60-year-old Obisetty alias Obaiah who reportedly performs witchcraft to cure ailments of locals. It is understood that Vijayamma used to frequent Obaiah's house and on Sunday she visited him seeking treatment for pain in her joints. At the time, Obaiah allegedly tried to sexually assault her. When she resisted, Obaiah stabbed her with a sharp-edged weapon killing her instantly.
Neighbours who heard cries inside Obaiah's house didn't take it seriously for it was common for people who came for treatment to cry out in pain during the 'tantrik' pujas performed by him.
But they felt something amiss when Obaiah emerged out of the house and started behaving in a manner that created suspicion. Following this, they rang up the police and a team led by Jarugumalle sub-inspector (SI) Razia reached the spot.
After a preliminary investigation, the SI tried to shift Obaiah to the police station but by then as word spread, a number of villagers and relatives of Vijayamma reached Vaddepalem. They stopped the police from shifting Obaiah to the station and asked the SI to hand over the accused to them.
Even as Razia was trying to convince the locals, the mob pulled Obaiah out of the vehicle and thrashed him. They beat him up with sticks and kicked him leading to his death. The police team comprising Razia, a constable and the jeep driver were totally outnumbered and forced to look on helplessly. Razia, who only recently completed her training and was given a posting, fell unconscious in the melee.
A police constable in the team informed higher officials who immediately rushed additional forces from nearby police stations to the village. By the time the police reached the village, the mob doused Obaiah's dead body with petrol and were ready to set it afire. Police officials had a tough time controlling the mob and shifted the dead bodies to the Ongole Government General Hospital only after midnight.
Police pickets were posted at the residences of both the deceased to prevent attacks and counterattacks.
Police registered two separate murder cases over the deaths of Vijayamma and Obaiah. Police said the accused would be identified and arrested. The bodies would be handed over to the families after an autopsy, they said.