POLICE of two states have been told to determine whether a 29-year-old, in love with a girl, 18, is a “suitable boy”. Before it closed for vacation, the Andhra Pradesh High Court also instructed that the two not communicate, leaving in limbo a “relationship” that has left the Telangana administration scratching its heads.
The girl is C Pratyusha, who was rescued on July 7 last year from alleged abuse and torture by her stepmother and father, and publicly adopted by Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao. Enrolled in a nursing course and hostel, Pratyusha told the staff last month that she had fallen in love. Smitten by Venkat Reddy, whom she describes as her “only friend” and “soulmate”, she also said she wanted to discontinue studies.
However, things are not that simple, as the two have discovered, and the officials insist. After her rescue, the high court had taken suo motu cognisance of her case and is monitoring her well-being. Venkat, who works in a cycle repair shop, has to now pass the court’s test.
Refusing to talk at length or be photographed or even reveal where in the city he works, Venkat says he “does not want to spoil Pratyusha’s name”.
It was a tip-off by neighbours at L B Nagar in Hyderabad where her father lives that had led child rights activists to Pratyusha. When they found her, she had bruises and cuts all over her body, allegedly due to months of torture by stepmother C Syamala, and had to be admitted to a private hospital. Her father C Rajesh Kumar and Syamala were arrested and are currently in judicial custody.
As her case became known, KCR announced he was adopting her. On her release from hospital, Pratyusha was invited to the CM’s home for lunch, where KCR, among other things, promised to get her married when the time came.
Pratyusha, in turn, told the CM that she had to leave school after Class VI but wanted to become a nurse. So, on KCR’s instructions, arrangements were made for her to appear as an external student and clear a few exams that made her eligible for the Multi-Purpose Health Workers (MPHW) nursing course. She joined the course last October, and moved into a hostel nearby. Alongside, she was given coaching at the hostel in English.
Last month, Pratyusha cleared the MPHW exam, and was to take up a bridge course which would enable her to join BSc (Nursing), her “dream”.
With the high court also taking interest in her case, Ranga Reddy, the district collector was appointed as Pratyusha’s official guardian, and the tehsildar of Malkajgiri, where the hostel is located, was told to ensure she had every comfort there. Besides this, a member of the Women and Child Welfare Department was put at her beck and call, while the CM himself proclaimed he would be just a phone call away. The Telangana government also opened a bank account for her, with a deposit of Rs 6.5 lakh.
All this, say stumped officials, may now amount to nothing. Pratyusha has told them that all she wants to do is leave the hostel, discontinue her studies, and marry Venkat.
While access to the CM’s adopted daughter is denied to all but those authorised by the court, Venkat says they met and fell in love while she was at the hostel just after being discharged from hospital. After that, they couldn’t meet, but stayed in touch over phone.
Venkat claims he had tried to meet Pratyusha when she was in hospital too, moved by her story, but wasn’t allowed to. He says he kept track and finally met and professed his love to her when she joined the MPHW course six months ago.
Officials first suspected something amiss when Pratyusha told them she wanted to leave the course. “After some coaxing, she confessed she was in love and wanted nothing but to marry the boy. She is convinced he loves her very much and will keep her happy. We are all surprised and don’t know what to do because so many people did a lot of things to help her fulfill her wish of becoming a nurse. Now she wants to drop out halfway. The boy is also not so gainfully employed. We are concerned about her,” a source says.
Officials add that the only thing they know about Venkat so far is that he hails from Allagadda in Kurnool district, lives in Hyderabad and works at a cycle shop in Malkajgiri.
Meanwhile, Pratyusha, having turned 18, has come to own a two-bedroom flat which her father, a junior telecom officer, gave as part of divorce settlement with her mother.
The officials as well as the high court have urged Pratyusha to reconsider her decision. “The court has requested her to finish her studies, and then think of marriage. But she is adamant. The high court has also asked the Andhra Pradesh CID to enquire about the family background etc of the boy and submit a report. Based on the report, action would be taken.”
Andhra Pradesh CID chief D Tirumala Rao admits being contacted by the Telangana Special Government Pleader and says he will start looking into Venkat’s background once he receives written communication from court.