PEDDAPALLI: In an act of wanton cruelty, a lawyer couple — Gattu Vaman Rao (52) and Nagamani (46) — was hacked to death at Kalvacherla under the Ramagiri police station limits on the Peddapalli-Manthani road in the district on Wednesday afternoon.According to police, the lawyers were returning to their residence in Bowenpally, Secunderabad, in a car from the Manthani court after arguing a case. That’s when two persons — one of them being Manthani TRS president Kunta Sreenu — swooped down on them and hacked them with sickles used to cut coconuts. The assailants, who were in another car, first chased the couple for some distance, overtook them at Kalvacherla, stopped their car in the middle of the road and cornered Vaman Rao.
As soon as Vaman Rao’s driver stopped the vehicle, the assailants rushed to the car, smashed open the window panes and brutally attacked the lawyer with knives. When his wife Nagamani tried to stop them, they killed her too.
Later, they dragged Vaman Rao out and hacked him indiscriminately in the middle of the busy Peddapalli-Manthani road. All this occurred in broad daylight around 2.30 pm.
As the assailants attacked their victims, the drivers of two RTC buses halted, as though they were waiting for them to get done with the horrendous act. A few passersby merely watched the horror unfold but could not muster the courage to rescue Vaman Rao. After one bus moved, enough room was created for the assailants to flee. They got into their car and drove away, running over the grievously injured lawyer, who lay in a pool of blood.
Lawyer’s dying words recorded on video
Before the couple was shifted to hospital in a 108 ambulance, Vaman Rao’s dying words were caught on video. He told the local people on video that Manthani mandal TRS president Kunta Sreenu, who is a follower of Peddapalli Zilla Parishad chairman Putta Madhu, was one of the two persons who had attacked them. The couple died on their way to hospital.
Vaman Rao belonged to the same village as Sreenu, Gunjapadugu, where there was a dispute over the construction of a building near the Ramalayam. The lawyer couple had visited the village and later the Manthani court where they took the signature of the petitioner on some forms for a case relating to the temple. They were murdered 16 km from Manthani.
Ramagundam Commissioner of Police PV Satyanarayana, who rushed to the spot, said six special teams have been constituted to arrest the culprits. While Vaman Rao’s driver has been taken into custody for questioning, police forces have been deployed at Manthani, Pedapalli, to prevent violence in retaliation to the murder. On the other hand, Kunta Sreenu and his follower, who are alleged to have murdered the couple, are at large.
“Special teams are searching for the culprits. We will apprehend them. We are investigating the case from all angles,” Satyanarayana said.Based on Vaman Rao’s father Kishan Rao’s complaint, police have registered a case against Sreenu, Manthani TRS president Akkapaka Kumar and Vasantha Rao under IPC Sections 302 (punishment for murder), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) — read with Section 34 (crime done by several persons). Police suspected that the assailants were contract killers.
The advocate, a couple of years ago, had taken up the case of M Madhukar, who was murdered for falling in love with a woman from a different caste. This reportedly angered some TRS leaders back then. Additionally, Vaman Rao and Nagamani used to file PILs against the government and police. They even took up the case of Seelam Rangaiah, who died in Manthani police custody recently.
A few months ago, the couple had moved the Telangana High Court seeking direction to the State government to give them protection as they were facing threat to their lives. They had been alleging that police, at the instance of law-breakers, were harassing them by registering cases against them.Vaman Rao and Nagamani had filed a PIL against Peddapalli Zilla Parishad Chairman Putta Madhu, accusing him of amassing wealth through corrupt means. They had sought a CBI inquiry too in the case. Meanwhile, Vaman Rao’s brother Gattu Shekar alleged that Kunta Sreenu and his follower Kumar killed his brother and sister-in-law and requested action against the culprits. “Had police provided them with security, they would have been alive today,” he said.