Humanity is under challenge
The cruelty of killers on one hand and silent viewership of the hundreds on the other, made murder of lawyer couple a spectacular event
The cruelty of killers on one hand and silent viewership of the hundreds on the other, made murder of lawyer couple a spectacular event. Tragic indeed. Besides law, public order, and peace, humanity is under challenge. In the present world of criminals becoming leaders, none will come to rescue the victims of broad daylight murders as that enthrals all of us in movies, where one will be fighting hundreds while thousands watch it as a tamasha. But at least the people should report to police and call an ambulance, instead of prioritising the recording of murder for sharing on social media.
Several tabloids and paparazzi agencies were lambasted for constantly following Diana's car till her death in early hours of August 31, 1997. Some media claimed the erratic behaviour of paparazzi following the car had contributed to the crash as the driver was rushing in unsafe speed to avoid their cameras. Though it was found later that it was driver's loss of control alone that could be blamed, the media was criticised as irresponsible and inhuman.
On February 17 in Telangana, two men waylaid, killed a woman lawyer inside the car and dragged out her husband, threw him on the road, repeatedly attacked him with knives, sickles, and axes at leisure, without any fear or hesitation, though hundreds were watching in broad daylight. The two RTC bus-full people were watching, and dozens of bypassers were recording on mobile cameras, ignoring the need to call police or ambulance.
Since afternoon of the murder, Facebook and WhatsApp platforms are full of the bloody pictures and videos. The victim Vaman Rao was found telling 'call ambulance'.
They were helping helpless
They were human beings, indeed. They were killed because they were helping others and fighting the powerful. A flexi "this construction has no legal permission" appeared in on a house under construction, and on the temple under construction. The wrong doers suspect it was the act of the advocate-couple.
A politician filed an affidavit listing his properties when he contested an election. Vaman Rao challenged the veracity of his affidavit with proof of suppression of several properties. When one young Dalit died in police custody, he filed a public interest litigation leading to investigation into police atrocity.
Advocates Gattu Vaman Rao and his wife Nagamani were practicing in High Court under the firm name Gattu Law Chambers. They belonged to village Gunjapadugu in Ramagiri Mandal of district Peddapalli in Telangana.
They were using weapon of law and court action to challenge the wrongs of the police and powerful persons in their village, despite facing, threats, hardships, and harassment. They sought police protection and direction to prevent police from harassing them. He was also fighting against sand mafia, and other wrongs occurring in his native village.
Protection from police
The High Court of Telangana has accorded the protection to the Advocate-couple. It is reported that victim Nagamani had requested recently again for protection. Entire Telangana courts came to stand still and Manthani town near his village observed Bandh for a day.
Advocate Gattu Vaman Rao and his wife Advocate Nagamani were attacked while they were returning to Hyderabad after attending a case in a local court in Peddapalli district. They were dragged out of four-wheeler at Kalvacharla village in Ramagiri Mandal of Peddapalli district in Telangana and attacked continuously with knives, axes, sickles etc. Vaman Rao was repeatedly attacked on the road while his wife was killed within the car itself.
The police officers said that the killings appear to have been executed by professional killers. The Ramagundam Police Commissioner V Sathyanarayana told media, "While they were travelling, some assailants have brutally stabbed them to death after overtaking their vehicle and stopping it." The assailants, who travelled in an SUV had blocked the vehicle of the couple, leaving them with no escape route.
Traffic halted for a while as motorists and bystanders watched the killings in horror, some of them were capturing the brutal murders on their phone cameras. One video showed the murder and the other showed assailants escaping in their SUV after the murders. Vaman Rao lying in the pool of blood was answering the questions about his name, village besides naming Kunta Srinu as responsible for attack. He was pleading for ambulance, but the people preferred recording. The CP said that Gattu Vaman Rao's father Kishan Rao in his complaint alleged that "Kunta Srinivas and Akkapaka Kumar have killed them at the behest of Vasanth Rao."
Kunta Srinivas, whose name is mentioned by victim, is the Mandal unit president of ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi, who lost election for Sarpanch of Panchayat. He was said to be the follower of Putta Madhu, former MLA and chairman Zilla Parishad of Peddapalli District.
Killed in lock-up
The lawyer-couple had recently filed a petition before Telangana High Court demanding a probe into allegation of the custodial death of Seelam Rangaiah, a Dalit man who was arrested under the charges of poaching wild animals.
The couple had written to the HC that on 22.5.2020 Sheelam Rangaiah (since deceased) was brought to Manthani Police Station, illegally detained in lockup for the past four days, harassed him both mentally and physically and due to unbearable beatings of the police including the CI, SI and constables, Sheelam Rangiah died in the lock up, and ultimately issued FIR u/s 174 of Cr.P.C and sent the dead body to Manthani Area Hospital for Post-mortem and trying to manage the Doctors not to identify the injuries on the dead body of the deceased.
The petitioners wanted a direction to the police to register the FIR as custodial death for the offences under section 176(2) Cr PC and u/s 302 of IPC and to conduct re-post-mortem examination on the dead body with a team of Doctors to trace out the original facts, to stop the cremation of the deceased Sheelam Rangiah and also to conduct judicial inquiry into the death of Sheelam Rangaiah.
The Bench has directed the Hyderabad Commissioner of Police Anjani Kumar to probe these allegations of custodial death. The High Court directed Anjani Kumar, the Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad, to personally investigate and to submit report, which was submitted to Court on 19.06.2020. The Court directed report to be kept under the custody of the Registrar General of High Court and Nagamani was permitted to take the notes from the report.
Nagamani informed High Court that ever since the said permission to file the counter to the Report was given to her, both she, and her husband are constantly being harassed by the police force, both at Manthani, and in Hyderabad. She also complained that her husband is being falsely implicated in two FIRs including No.176 of 2020 on 02.O9.2020, registered with Police Station, Basanth Nagar, Ramagundam District. Moreover, according to her, she is being threatened over phone by the Police Department, in case she was to file a counter to the Report submitted by Anjani Kumar, the Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad, not only her life, but also the lives of her children, and other family members will be in danger.
She also told that the concerned Circle Inspector of Police had threatened to commit suicide, in case, if the case filed by Ms. Nagamani is not withdrawn by her. The High Court directed the Director General of Police, Telangana State, to ensure chat neither Nagamani, nor her husband, Gattu Vaman Rao, are threatened by any police officer, and that they are not called to any police station as long as this case is sub judice before the High Court. The court had extended protection to the couple and posted the matter for further hearing in April. The leaders of ruling party and police are facing allegations in this gruesome murder. They have to clear these doubts.
(The writer is Professor of Law, Bennett University and former Central Information Commissioner)