The police in Miryalaguda, a town in Telangana’s Nalgonda district, failed to detect the presence of two hardcore criminals and their meetings with T Maruthi Rao, the businessman whose son-in-law, Pranay Kumar, was hacked to death on September 14 by a man he had allegedly hired. The accused duo, Asghar Ali and Mohammed Bari, who helped Rao allegedly hire the suspected killer, Subhash Sharma, are notorious criminals and were officially under surveillance, according to the police.
Local Intelligence Bureau officials, Special Police, and Nalgonda Police were supposed to have Asghar and Bari under surveillance. But the police failed to detect their multiple trips to Miryalaguda town. Miryalaguda Town Police also failed to detect their presence, top officials said. Nalgonda’s Superintendent of Police A V Ranganath has said that they have started a “parallel inquiry on lapses in police surveillance, and why we missed obvious signs that something was going on”. Maruthi Rao allegedly got Pranay, 24, killed after his daughter, Amrutha Varshini, married Pranay, who belongs to Dalit community. He was allegedly also angered by Amrutha’s refusal to undergo abortion. Asghar and Bari allegedly helped hire Sharma, a native of Bihar. Sharma allegedly hacked Pranay to death outside a hospital in Miryalaguda on September 14, according to the police.
Even after Sharma arrived in Miryalaguda, he and Bari moved around the town, allegedly plotting Pranay’s murder, but the police failed to detect their presence. Rao, Asghar, Bari and Sharma have been arrested. Miryalaguda Town Congress chief Abdul Kareem, who the police say introduced Asghar and Bari to Maruthi Rao, Rao’s brother Sravan and an aide, Samudrala, are the others arrested in the case. Asghar Ali, 40, who the police say has a long and notorious criminal record in Nalgonda and Hyderabad, was the prime suspect in the murder of former Gujarat minister Haren Pandya – he was acquitted in 2011 for lack of evidence. Bari, Asghar’s childhood friend, also has a long criminal record in Nalgonda, the police said.
In the first week of June, the police say, Asghar and Bari met Rao in the latter’s SUV parked near the busy Autonagar area of Miryalaguda. A top officer said Rao hinted that he was looking for a hired assassin, and was told by Kareem that Asghar and Bari were in severe financial difficulties.
Nalgonda SP Rangnath said: “Rao convinced them that their financial problems will be solved if they helped him eliminate Pranay Kumar by finding a hired killer. A month later there was a second meeting between Rao, Asghar and Bari in which Rao offered Rs 1 crore for killing Pranay. He agreed to pay Rs 50 lakh as advance.”
Rao allegedly paid an advance of Rs 16 lakh in the first week of July. Of this, Bari took Rs 8 lakh, Azghar Rs 7 lakh, and Abdul Kareem got Rs 1 lakh, according to sources. The cash was reportedly delivered in front of Ramoji Film City. According to a police official, Bari bought a second-hand two-wheeler, three SIM cards and three mobile phones under fictitious names.
“Around that time, Rao learnt that his daughter was pregnant and started putting pressure on the gang to kill Pranay at the earliest,” an officer close to the investigation said. “He asked Amrutha to undergo abortion. She refused.”
According to the police, Rao called up Amrutha’s gynaecologist Dr J Jyothi, and asked her to advise an abortion but the doctor refused.
On August 9, Sharma allegedly went to recce Pranay’s house. He saw Pranay’s mother and asked whether the car parked in front was for hire. “She said no, and alerted her husband about a suspicious-looking person loitering around. But his matter was not reported to the police,” he said.
Although the police knew that there was a threat to the couple ever since they eloped and got married in Hyderabad in January this year, Amrutha and Pranay were neither under police surveillance nor provided protection, as they did not demand protection. Thus, on August 14, when Sharma walked towards Pranay when he came to pick up Amrutha from a beauty parlour with the intention of killing him, no one noticed. Sharma aborted the attempt at the last minute when he saw another youth beside Pranay and got confused about identity of the “target”, an officer said.
On September 14, after a tip-off that Pranay and Amrutha would visit the gynaecologist, Sharma followed them. Bari was waiting a few metres away, and Asghar directed the operation from Nalgonda, the SP said.
SP Rangnath said: “After the murder, Bari picked up Subhash and they went to Nalgonda. They called Rao and told him that the job was done and that he should pay the remaining Rs 84 lakh. Rao’s plan was that after making the payment he would go to the police and say he had no connection with the murder. He thought Subhash Sharma would never be identified or caught.”