Dalit honour killing: A web of caste and politics

Amruthavarshini has alleged that her father spent Rs10m to get her husband Pranay Kumar killed

Hyderabad: The murder of a Dalit youth in a case of ‘honour killing’ has taken many sensational twists, with a political angle being added.

Pranay Kumar, who married an upper caste woman in Miryalaguda town, was killed in broad daylight when he brought his pregnant wife to a hospital for a routine check up. After assaulting him with sharp weapons and killing him, the attackers escaped by car.

Nalgonda district police claimed that it was close to a breakthrough in the case after identifying the main culprits — Abdul Bari and Shafi — and other people involved. The victim’s wife Amruthavarshini has alleged that her father T Maruti Rao paid Rs10 million (Dh508,817) to get Kumar killed.

According to police sources, 9-10 people were involved in the murder last week. Rao was the main conspirator, as he wanted the man killed for marrying his daughter.

The police have already arrested five people including Rao, his brother Shravan, and friend Kareem. There was speculation that the police have also taken Bari and Shafi into custody, and Bari confessed that he gave the responsibility of eliminating Kumar to Shafi.

Bari is a notorious thug in Nalgonda and he was also accused in the murder of former Gujarat Home Minister Haren Pandya.

According to sources, Rao, a prominent businessman from the Bania community, came into contact with Bari a few years ago when Bari kidnapped him in a land grabbing case. Rao approached Bari two months ago and gave him the contract to kill Kumar, who married his daughter in Hyderabad in January.

Police sources said that during questioning Rao admitted to the crime and justified it.

“For me nothing is more important than my social status and name, not even my daughter or her happiness,” he reportedly told the police.

Police officials said that Rao was one of the richest and most politically influential personalities in Miryalaguda town of Nalgonda district. He was reportedly worth Rs1 billion as he had many businesses, including real estate and kerosene. He and his brother had also recently joined the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti and had been pictured with minister G Jagdeesh Reddy and TRS MLA Vemula Veeresham. There was a big hoarding in the town with the photo of Rao with the minister.

Amruthavarshini has said that her father spent a huge amount of money to get her husband killed. She also alleged that her father had tried to pressurise her through Veeresham to desert her husband and return to her parents. Amruthavarshini alleged that the MLA took money from her father and threatened her as well as the parents of her husband.

Nalgonda district superintendent of police AV Ranganath confirmed that Rao had approached political leaders of different parties, including Veeresham, for their help to get his daughter back. “But there is no evidence to link the MLA to the killing,” Ranganath said.

According to the investigation Rao had quite a shoddy background. Belonging to a lower middle class family, he originally belonged to Kakinada but settled in Miryalaguda about two decades ago.

Starting as a kerosene dealer, he gradually developed his business as a dealer of jaggery and expanded it to real estate. There were also allegations that through the manipulation and forgery of documents and revenue records he grabbed prime land including those allotted to freedom fighters.

At one stage he was involved in a confrontation with the dreaded Naxalite-turned-gangster Nayeemuddin over a piece of land. But the two later compromised and cooperated with each other. Nayeemuddin was killed in an encounter with the police a couple of years ago.

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