Around the time a killer was waiting to hack P Pranay Kumar — a Dalit who married Amrutha Varshini, who belongs to an upper caste — Sub-Inspector Nagaraj of One Town police station was waiting to hand over charge to B Sudheer Kumar. Nagaraj said he had cleared his desk when he got a call from a mediaperson about the murder. He rushed to the spot.
The murder took place amid the transfer of SIs and Deputy SP at the police station. Much of the force was busy with Ganesh immersion. It took a few hours for Miryalaguda Police to get its act together after Superintendent of Police A V Rangnath arrived. Nagaraj took charge of the investigation, which was later transferred to Deputy SP S Srinivas under the direct supervision of the SP.
“Although we were in the midst of transfers, it did not affect the investigation. We reacted appropriately,” said B Sudheer Kumar, who is now SI of One Town police station. “We have started a parallel inquiry on the lapses in police surveillance and why we missed obvious signs,” Rangnath said.
The police knew there was a threat to the couple since January 30, when Pranay and Amrutha got married. “Given the background of the father, who is known for intimidating, land grabbing, police knew he would do something. We warned him several times and cautioned the couple,” Rangnath said. Amrutha’s father T Maruthi Rao has now been booked under IPC and SC/ST Act.
There were hints to Pranay’s family too. On February 22, a sub-inspector from Ketupally police station called P Balaswami, Pranay’s father, saying someone had complained against him for selling fake insurance policies. “It was a false allegation but the cops harassed me and warned me about my son,” Balaswami said. “I used to receive phone calls from many people. Some of my father’s friends who called are powerful people. I told Pranay several times that he was in danger,” Amrutha said.
The couple met Deputy Inspector General Stephen Ravindra, who asked the Nalgonda SP to warn Maruthi Rao. On August 14, when the couple went to invite Deputy SP Srinivas, he too asked them to be careful. “They did not ask for security. When I told them that Maruthi Rao cannot be trusted, they said they would be careful,” Srinivas said.
Maruthi Rao’s presence is palpable in Miryalaguda. The banners he put up welcoming TRS minister Jagdish Reddy are still there. Maruthi Rao is a real estate magnate. There is the Amrutha Genius Concept School, he has taken Natraj theatre on lease, and was building a multispeciality hospital. And selling plots off a national highway. He belongs to the powerful Vaishya community, which controls 200 rice mills and much of the business in Miryalaguda and Deverkonda towns.
As Dalit anger spilled on to the streets, a flexboard with tributes to Pranay hung on the main Sagar Road dividing the rich Vaishya and Reddy communities and the Dalit and BC colonies.
Police claimed that Maruthi Rao lulled the couple and police into a false sense of security. “He cried when I warned him to leave the couple alone. He said he had no intention of harming them. He said he decided to forget he had a daughter,” DSP Srinivas said.