Hyderabad: Days ahead of the Dubbaka by-polls where the ruling TRS and its adversaries, the BJP and Congress, are putting up a robust fight, Siddipet district witnessed a political drama on 26 October and it still continues.

Acting upon intelligence inputs the district police, accompanied by the executive magistrate, carried out searches at three locations in Siddipet on Monday. The police found Rs. 18.67 lakh unaccounted cash in the house of S. Anjan Rao located at the Lecturer’s colony. Emotions ran high when BJP supporters snatched Rs. 12 lakh cash from the police soon after the searches and blamed them for planting the money to defame the party candidate M. Raghunandan Rao. The saffron party activists turned volatile when Telangana BJP president Bandi Sanjay was detained on his way to Siddipet on the same day evening.

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Responding to the series of allegations levelled against the Telangana cops, the Siddipet Commissioner of police, Joel Davis, refuted any foul play. The district police chief released two videos on 19 October claiming that it was shot before the BJP supporters created a ruckus. The video substantiates that the money was found in the house, he claimed.

Speaking to NewsMeter, the police chief said, “Since the announcement of the Dubbaka by-polls, the district has been placed under the model code of conduct. Every complaint lodged or received needs to be thoroughly verified and reported to the Election Commission’s office. The complaint is taken forward by the election and expenditure observers team appointed by the Central government.”

He further said, “The police received specific inputs that at three different places in Siddipet, money was being distributed in small amounts with the intent to lure voters. The same was informed to the executive magistrate and in his presence, three teams of police searched the house of S. Anjan Rao, who happens to be BJP leader M. Raghunandan Rao’s father-in-law’s distant brother. The investigators found Rs. 18.67 lakh cash. During the searches, Anjan Rao informed the police that Jitender Rao, his brother-in-law, had sent the money through his driver. The money was found in the bedroom of Anjan Rao’s house.”

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Minutes after the police teams concluded searches and stepped out of the house, a mob comprising at least 20 activists charged at the cops and snatched Rs. 12 lakhs. Allegations were levelled that cops had planted the money. The BJP candidate for Dubbaka, M. Raghunandan Rao, who was campaigning on Monday, abruptly ended it and rushed to the Lecturer’s Colony where the searches were underway.

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Mr. Davis, said, “There were at least 200 party workers outside the house led by BJP candidate Raghunandhan Rao. When the cops stepped out, a mob entered the compound and charged at the team in the presence of the magistrate and snatched the money. Despite a robust team accompanied by three assistant commissioners of police, the activists outside the gate obstructed the operation and held rasta roko. Party workers did not allow additional police force to enter the house.

When asked if the cops had a search warrant, the officer said, "The inputs were shared with the Tahsildar who is the executive magistrate. Orders were issued accordingly.

A statement by V Vijay Sagar-Tahsildar and executive magistrate Siddipet said, "On the request of the inspector of police, Siddipet-I town about an money and request for a search-of-house order. I as an executive magistrate rushed to the house at around 2PM and issued search notice as per the norms. When the cash was found, the owner of the house was issued a receipt. Later a group of men attacked the police and snatched away money after verification it was found the Rs 12.80 lakhs were robbed out of the Rs 18.67 lakh cash".

It must be noted that it is yet to be established how much each voter was being paid. “The money was meant for distribution, as confessed by Anjan Rao, but there is no documentary evidence on how much each voter was paid. I had to inform the truth to the public because allegations against the cops are doing the rounds of social media.”

Among the other whose houses were searched was Siddipet TRS municipal chairman Raja Narusu and S. Ram Gopal Rao, however no cash was found.

A criminal case has been registered against at least 25 activists under several sections of the IPC.

Meanwhile, the Telangana BJP president, Bandi Sanjay, continues to be under detention while other senior leaders like Nizamabad MP Dharmapuri Aravind, Goshamahal MLA Raja Singh, and other activist are placed under house arrest.

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Responding to the political drama, TRS minister T. Harish Rao, who has been given the task to win the Dubbaka by-polls, came down heavily on the BJP. The minister alleged that the BJP was trying hard to bag the Dubbaka seat because the people of Telangana has little faith in the Lotus party.

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Meanwhile, BJP workers staged a protest at various parts of the state. Few burnt the effigy of Telangana Chief Minister K ChandraShekar Rao.

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All eyes on the Dubbaka By-polls scheduled to be held on the 3rd of November and the results will be out seven days later.

Coreena Suares

Coreena Enet Suares is the Editor of NewsMeter. Her stories have been published in the Deccan Chronicle Newspaper and the Asian Age. Coreena began her career as a News Anchor. Throughout her journey, she has been able to build a strong network with people from all walks of life. She is an alumnus of Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists- Research and Investigation, a flagship initiative of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) Coreena is also a certified fact-checker by Google India Initiative. She has attended the 'Defence Correspondents Course 2019, through which she visited Indo- Pak border, besides traveling on a War-ship and insight into operations of Fighter aircraft. Coreena's focus areas are anti-crime investigation agencies and Defence reporting.

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