YSRC Mandapeta candidate convicted in 28-year-old case

Raju and Venkataratnam along with three others were physically tortured and the duo’s heads were tonsured and their mustache shaved.
YSRC Mandapeta candidate convicted in 28-year-old case

VIJAYAWADA : Nearly 28 years after tonsuring and shaving the moustache of two Dalit youths in Ramachandrapuram mandal, YSRC MLC Thota Trimurthulu and five others have been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment by the special court for SC/ST cases in Visakhapatnam. A fine of Rs 2.50 lakh was also imposed on them. However, the court immediately granted bail to Trimurthulu and the other convicted persons. The incident took place on December 29, 1996 in Venkatayapalem village in East Godavari district.

Trimurthulu contested the 1994 elections as an independent from Ramachandrapuram Assembly constituency and won. During the elections, the victims, identified as Koti Chinna Raju and D Venkataratnam (daily wage workers in electricity department), worked for the BSP. They had an argument with the supporters of Trimurthulu during polling. After Trimurthulu, a Kapu leader, won the elections, cases were registered against the duo on charges of theft.

This led to a confrontation between the supporters of the Kapu leaders and local Dalit youths which led to the incident. Raju and Venkataratnam along with three others were physically tortured and the duo’s heads were tonsured and their mustache shaved.

Opposition leaders demand MLC’s suspension

Former minister and TDP leader KS Jawahar demanded the YSRC to suspend Trimurthulu from the party. “The YSRC should immediately take action against Trimurthulu, if its claims of being pro-Dalit are true,” he said. Meanwhile, legal experts said the verdict will not be a hindrance to him from contesting the elections as the Representation of the People Act, 1951, mandates immediate disqualification of any lawmaker who is “convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years”. Similarly, a person cannot contest if the conviction to imprisonment is not less than two years

Trimurthulu’s trial saw over 140 adjournments

A case under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act was booked and Trimurthulu was arrested. He was jailed for 87 days and later granted bail.

The case took several turns with the victims allegedly being lured to convert to another religion so that the SC/ST Act could not be invoked against them.

During this time, Trimurthulu, after winning his debut election, shifted to TDP and got elected again in 1999. He lost to Pilli Subhash Chandra Bose in the 2004 and 2009 elections.

After the merger of Praja Rajyam Party with the Congress, Trimurthulu joined the grand old party and won in the bye-election in 2012. He contested from the TDP in 2014 and won. However, in 2019, he lost to YSRC’s Ch Srinivasa Venugopala Krishna.

After joining YSRC, he was made an MLC and is now contesting from Mandapeta Assembly constituency.

The HC directed the trial court to speed up. Hence, the verdict was pronounced today. The trial saw more than 140 adjournments. Soon after the verdict, Trimurthulu filed an application for bail and was granted relief. Trimurthulu said he would respect the judgment and would appeal before the HC. TDP leader KS Jawahar demanded that the YSRC to suspend Trimurthulu from the party.

Legal experts said the verdict will not be a hindrance to him from contesting the elections as the Representation of the People Act, 1951 mandates immediate disqualification of any lawmaker who is “convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years”.

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