The Telangana High court has granted conditional release to three of the main accused in the Pranay murder case in Miryalguda town of Telangana, 140 km from Hyderabad.
The hired killing had shocked the country as the person accused to have ordered the hit on Pranay was his father-in-law, Maruthi Rao. The three who will be released from Warangal prison are Maruthi Rao, his brother Shravan Kumar and Rao’s friend and transport operator, Abdul Kareem who had reportedly arranged for the hired killer.
On 14 September, Pranay, a Dalit youth was killed by a hired assassin named Subhash Sharma with a machete. The scene of crime was a hospital where the assailant attacked Pranay, killing him on the spot even as Amrutha Varshini, his wife recoiled with horror. Pranay had married Amrutha, who belonged to the Vysya community, a forward caste and that had angered Maruthi Rao. Amrutha had almost immediately after the murder, accused her father for being the brain behind the case of dishonour killing.
Pranay and Amrutha who were in love since their school days, had got married in January 2018. Amrutha’s family was not happy with her decision. Amrutha at the time of Pranay’s murder was five months pregnant and in January, gave birth to a baby boy. Incidentally, the baby arrived on the day of Amrutha-Pranay’s wedding anniversary.
A team of Telangana police had nabbed Subhash Sharma from Samastipur town in Bihar. Rs one crore was the amount Rao, a real estate tycoon with considerable political influence in Miryalaguda, had reportedly agreed to pay the hired assassins to eliminate Pranay. The deal was struck in June-July 2018 after a fair bit of haggling as the three-member team of supari killers initially demanded Rs 2.5 crore. Asghar Ali, Abdul Kareem and Mohammed Bari took an advance amount of Rs 15 lakh and hired Sharma to take Pranay’s life. In 2003, Asghar and Bari were arrested for killing former Gujarat Home minister Haren Pandya but were later acquitted by the Gujarat High court.
Rao had got in touch with Kareem who according to sources in Nalgonda district was involved in land settlements. Both kept their feet in all political boats to ensure immunity. Kareem was a member of the local unit of the Congress party, that suspended him after the incident while Rao was with the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti. In fact, Miryalaguda town in September 2018 had several banners of Rao with Education minister Jagadish Reddy who hails from the district.
Incidentally, the accused had received bail from the SC/ST court in December 2018 but they were not released as the police had invoked the Preventive Detention Act. The police feel that the court released them because it expects PD Act to be slapped only on habitual offenders and those who are likely to disturb public order. Maruthi Rao, in the court’s view, did not fall in the category.
The other three accused – Subhash Sharma, Asghar Ali and Mohammed Bari – too are likely to move for release from jail, they may not find the court sympathetic as they have several cases against them and fall under the ambit of being defined as habitual offenders.
The police will go in appeal to the Supreme court against the release as it fear Maruthi Rao would try to meddle with the evidence. There is also the threat perception to Pranay’s family. The police continue to provide 2 + 2 security to Amrutha at her home.
“We will appeal for Maruthi Rao and the other accused to stay in prison under the PD Act till the trial is completed,” says AV Ranganath, SP of Nalgonda district.
The chargesheet is yet to be filed in the case and is likely to be done in another three weeks.
“A lot of technical evidence had to be collected as we were trying to clinch this case through it. For that we had to contact Google and other international agencies which took time. We will file the case in the SC/ST court in Nalgonda and would hope that it is done in a fast track court,” says Ranganath.