Hyderabad: Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader and the former sarpanch of Pedagarlapadu village, 55-year-old Puramsetti Ankulu, was killed in Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district late on Sunday night, sparking a political row with the TDP accusing the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) of perpetrating political violence in the state.
Ankulu is the second TDP leader to be murdered in a week; a district spokesperson, Nandam Subbaiah, was killed in Proddaturu village in Kadapa soon after posting comments on social media about alleged irregularities in the state government’s house sites distribution programme.
The YRSCP has denied a role in both deaths.
According to police, Ankulu’s body was found late Sunday night at an under-construction site in Dachepalli town with multiple stab wounds and a slit throat.
The superintendent of police for Guntur (rural), Vishal Gunni, said that three special teams have been formed for a probe in the case. “We are inquiring into all angles in the murder, including factional violence and financial disputes between Ankulu and others,” Gunni said.
He said the preliminary investigation revealed that four people may be involved in the murder. “It came to our notice that in the past, too, Ankulu escaped a murder attempt. We are yet to trace his mobile phone, which can provide vital clues,” the SP said.
A case of murder under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) has been filed.
Ankulu’s family members said in their police complaint that he received a phone call at around 7pm on Sunday, and left home to meet someone. The callers may be involved in the murder, the family alleged.
On Monday, TDP members assembled at the spot of the murder and raised slogans against the YSRCP. “It is a cold-blooded murder by YSRCP leaders,” former TDP legislator Yarapathineni Srinivasa Rao said.
The party’s general secretary Nara Lokesh, who attended Ankulu’s funeral on Monday afternoon, said there was a lack of policing in the state. “It looks like there is no police system to protect the lives of the people in Andhra Pradesh. Opposition leaders are under constant threat to their lives under this faction-driven, heartless government,” he said.
Condemning the murder, TDP president and former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu also alleged that the YSRCP was indulging in “murder politics” against the Opposition.
Naidu said that over “16 TDP leaders”have been killed in the last 19 months of chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s rule. “The murder of Subbaiah in Proddaturu and Ankulu in Dachepalli holds a mirror to the criminal intolerance of the YSRCP leaders, who are not able to digest the reality when Opposition leaders question the government’s failures, corruption and negligence,” Naidu said in a statement.
The YSRCP, however, dismissed the allegations. “Our party has nothing to do with the murder of Ankulu. TDP leaders are making baseless allegations only for political gains. We have asked Director General of Police Gautam Sawang to make an impartial inquiry into the murder,” the party’s Gurajalalegislator Mahesh Reddy said.