Jaganmohan Reddy injured in knife attack at Vizag airport

YSRCP leader’s supporters stage protests, vandalise the airport after the incident

Hyderabad: In a big security lapse at the Visakhapatnam airport in Andhra Pradesh, a young man attacked opposition leader YS Jaganmohan Reddy with a small knife, injuring him in his left arm on Thursday morning, police said.

The assailant, identified as Jaripalli Srinivas, a waiter at the airport canteen, was apprehended immediately and a knife retrieved from him.

The incident occurred in the VIP lounge of the airport, where Jagan was waiting for the flight to leave for Hyderabad. According to an eyewitnesses, the waiter approached Reddy when the latter was rest; after placing a cup of tea before him, he asked for a selfie with him. He also discussed the electoral prospects of Jagan’s party and asked whether it would win 160 seats in the next assembly elections. As Reddy smilingly agreed to a selfie, Srinivas whipped out a razor edged knife and attacked him, injuring his left arm and causing it to bleed. security personnel standing at the door grabbed assailant, as Reddy tried to recover from the shock.

The YSRC Congress party president, who was on a padyatra (walkathon) in Vizianagaram district, was leaving for Hyderabad to mark his weekly appearance in court for a disproportionate assets case on Friday.

As the news created a sensation across the state and Reddy’s supporters protested and vandalised the airport, State Director General of Police R P Thakur said that the attack was apparently a planned act and that the assailant’s aim was to get publicity. “The assailant was nabbed by the airport security staff and handed over to the police,” he said.

Police found a nine-page letter in the attacker’s pocket, which is being analysed to establish the motive of the attack.

Srinivas, a resident of Thaniyalapally near Amalapuram in East Godavari district, is a junior college dropout.

Even as the YSRCP leaders lashed out at the police for the lapse in security, DGP Thakur pointed out that the airport security was under the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).

“CISF commandant Dinesh Kumar handed over the assailant to the police and we are interrogating him,” Thakur said, adding that the content of the letter will be released later.

Reddy arrives in Hyderabad

After being given first aid by the medical staff at Visakhapatnam airport, Reddy left by Hyderabad flight. At Shamshabad airport, he was given a rousing reception by his supporters in the city.

In his first reaction to the incident, Reddy tweeted that he was safe. “God’s grace and the love, concern and blessings of the people of Andhra Pradesh will protect me. Such cowardice acts will not dissuade me but only strengthen my resolve to work for the people of my state”.

Andhra Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister N Chinnarajappa strongly condemned the attack and said that the police would get to the bottom of the incident. “Police are questioning the attacker. We expect more details by the evening.”

State governor ESL Narasimhan and all the political parties, including the BJP and MIM, condemned the attack.

Interestingly, Telugu film actor Sivaji recently stirred a hornet’s nest by predicting that as part of the BJP operation ‘Garuda’, Reddy will be attacked in a move to destabilise Andhra Pradesh.

Assailant a fan of Reddy

Meanwhile, conflicting claims were being made about Srinivas, the alleged assailant.

While his family members have claimed that Srinivas was an ardent fan of Jaganmohan Reddy, YSR Congress leaders have alleged that he was close to a Telugu Desam Party leader and the owner of the airport canteen.

The alleged assailant’s brother told the media in his native town in East Godavari district that nobody believes he could have attacked Reddy, as he was an ardent fan of the leader. “We are not able to understand it. He so loving prepared a flexi, with his own photo and a photo of Jagans, to greet people on the eve of Sankranti and New Year,” his brother said. “He is also mentally sound and healthy,” he added.

Harshvardhan, the owner of the airport canteen where Srinivas was working, repeated the same thing and said Srinivas had no criminal background. “It appears to be some conspiracy and somebody made him do it,” he said.

On the other hand, several YSRCP leaders expressed suspicions that the owner of the canteen was a TDP leader and wanted a thorough probe into the matter.

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