HYDERABAD/WARANGAL:Warangal, which is in the grip of election fever ahead of the ensuing Lok Sabha bypoll, woke up to the shocking news of the mysterious death of former Congress MP Siricilla Rajaiah’s daughter-in-law and three grandsons at his residence in Revenue Colony early Wednesday.
Rajaiah’s daughter-in-law S Sarika (35) and her three sons — Abhinav (7) and twins Ayan and Sriyan (3) — were charred to death in a major fire that broke out in the house in the wee hours. Police initially suspected gas cylinder leak but, by evening, they reportedly discovered that the cylinder was empty, which fuelled suspicion of foul play.
Police sources indicated to Express that the probe was focused on piecing together the sequence of events and importantly, on whether Sarika and her children were first poisoned and then, set afire. Hours after the incident, the police detained Rajaiah, his wife Madhavi and son Anil, all of whom are being interrogated. Rajaiah, who was the Congress candidate for the Warangal Lok Sabha bypoll, has been withdrawn from the fray. The party immediately announced that Sarve Satyanarayana will contest the bypoll. It was aound 4.15 a.m that thick smoke was seen billowing out of the first floor of Rajaiah’s residence. Rajaiah and his wife were on the second floor while their son, Anil, was on the ground floor at the time. Soon, fire-fighters and police rushed to the scene. As they broke open the doors, they found the charred bodies of Sarika and her children. A gas cylinder found in the room prompted the police to suspect gas leak.
But by evening, as the sleuths were pursuing different leads, they learnt that the cylinder was empty. “As of now, the picture is still unclear. We are working on different angles,” a senior police official said. Warangal IGP Naveen Chand said they could not say whether it was a murder or suicide.
Subedari CI and investigating officer Narender said they had registered a case under IPC 498 (A) and 306 sections besides 174 CrPC, based on a complaint lodged by Sarika’s parents Srinivasa Chary and Lalitha. They held Sarika’s in-laws responsible for the deaths.
In March last year, Sarika had allegedly tried to commit suicide and had lodged a case of dowry harassment against Rajaiah’s family members and her husband Anil Kumar. She had even staged a sit-in outside Rajaiah’s house. Unconfirmed reports suggested Sarika, who used work for IBM earlier, had shot off a letter to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi urging her not to give Rajaiah the party ticket, just about five days ago. Sarika got married to Anil in 2006.
sarve in poll fray
Soon after the tragedy at Rajaiah’s residence, a shocked TPCC chief Uttam Kumar Reddy held talks with his party high command. They zeroed in on Sarve Satyanarayana to replace Rajaiah as the party candidate for Warangal bypoll.