A day after Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) leader Tammineni Krishnaiah (62) was waylaid and brutally murdered by a gang of four assailants at Teldarupalli village of Khammam district, eight CPI(M) activists, including the party’s state secretary Thammineni Veerabhadram’s brother Tammineni Koteswara Rao, are under the scanner.
Meanwhile, amid rising tension in the village and heavy deployment of police, Krishnaiah’s cremation on Tuesday saw over five thousand of his followers taking part.
Tammineni Krishnaiah, a cousin of Veerabhadram, had quit CPI(M) and joined the TRS three years ago and in 2020 forced a contest in the MPTC elections in the Khammam rural Mandal for the first time since the country’s independence. In the election, Krishnaiah’s wife Mangathayi, who fought as an Independent, won as the MPTC member, upsetting the CPI(M). Mangathayi and their son Naveen blame Koteswara Rao and the political rivalry behind the murder.
“Four teams are after the attackers and we will take them in custody any moment. We have collected good evidence but until we question the accused, we cannot conclude the motive behind the murder. Political rivalry or business rivalry or if anything else, we would know only after we question the suspects,” Khammam police commissioner Vishnu S Warrier told indianexpress.com.
At the time of the fatal attack, Krishnaiah was riding pillion on a two-wheeler with his associate Koppula Muthesam and returning from Independence Day celebrations at Gurralapadu. He was one of the directors at the Andhra Bank Rythu Karshaka Parishad.
According to the police, the murder took place around 11.15 am near Dhobi ghat in Teldarupalli village. The gang of four came in an autorickshaw and rammed their two-wheeler, chased him and hacked him repeatedly with axes, sickles and knives. As Krishnaiah died on the spot after suffering multiple injuries on his neck, his palms were chopped and taken away by the attackers, the FIR said.
Muthesam, who escaped with minor injuries, later identified the attackers as CPI(M) activists and followers of Koteswara Rao. As tension prevailed in the village, followers of Krishnaiah Monday pelted stones at Koteshwara Rao’s residence and ransacked the residences of those identified by Muthesam.
More than anything, the police believe a power tussle to establish one’s superiority could be the reason behind the murder. Teldarupally is the bastion of Veerabhadram and Krishnaiah has emerged as a strong voice of the ruling TRS party here.
“It need not be an ideological clash. It looks like an attempt to put an end to the debate on who is the dominant leader of the village. More on the lines of one’s stature,” said an officer, on condition of anonymity. “The eyewitness has identified the four attackers as followers of Tammineni Koteswara Rao, who is the own brother of Tammineni Veerabhadram and a cousin of the deceased. Based on a complaint from son Naveen, Koteswara Rao is named accused number 1,” said the officer.
In the FIR registered by Khammam rural police, apart from Tammineni Koteswara Rao, the police have also named seven CPI(M) activists Shaik Ramzan, Jakkampudi Krishna, Gajji Krishna Swamy, Nukala Lingaiah, Banda Nageswara Rao, Bodapatla Sreenu and Yellampalli Nagaiah and charged them under Sections 148(rioting, armed with a deadly weapon), 341(wrongful restraint), 120B (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder) read with 149 (unlawful assembly with common object) of IPC.