Hyderabad: In 2018 Pranay Perumalla was hacked to death in broad daylight. It was alleged that his wife’s family had planned his murder because Pranay was a Dalit. The suicide of the prime accused, Maruthi Rao, on 8 March has brought the case to the fore again. Here is how the story unfolded.
The love story of Perumalla Pranay and Amrutha Varshini
Perumalla Pranay and Amrutha Varshini knew each other since they were school students in Miryalaguda. Both went on to study engineering in different colleges. But the two were in love and couldn't stay apart and dropped out of college.
In January 2018 the duo got married. Amrutha shared their pre-wedding video, shot at the Hidden Castle in Siddipet, on Facebook and netizens were in awe of the couple. Thousands of likes and comments poured in and several people even shared the video. However, little did Amrutha know that her father, Maruthi Rao, would be furious after watching the video. When all his efforts to get his daughter back failed, he decided to kill Pranay.
Murder in broad daylight
The couple was living the life they had dreamed of. A month after their marriage, Amrutha became pregnant. On 14 September 2018, when she was five-months pregnant, Pranay, Amrutha, and Pranay's mother visited the Miryalaguda hospital. Outside the hospital an unidentified man attacked Pranay with a machete, killing him on the spot. The brutal murder in broad daylight rocked Amrutha’s world. She called her father and told him about the attack. However, Maruthi Rao cut the call.
The murder was captured on CCTV cameras installed outside the hospital. The footage shook the entire nation. The entire Miryalaguda mourned the death of 23-year-old Pranay.
Support poured in for Pranay and Amrutha from all parts of the country and Amrutha resolved to not let Pranay's death be in vain. The police started an investigation as political leaders, too, got involved in the case.
The investigation revealed that Amrutha’s father Maruthi Rao had offered Pranay Rs. 3 crore to leave his daughter and had even tried to abort the child. When Pranay refused his offer Maruthi Rao decided to kill his son-in-law and started searching for contract killers. He reportedly approached the Congress president of Miryalaguda, Abdul Kareem, and asked him who would do the job. Kareem allegedly named Asghar Ali and Abdul Bari, who was accused in the murder of former Gujarat Home minister Haren Pandya in Ahmedabad in 2003. The duo then subcontracted a hitman Subash Sharma. The final price of the murder was Rs. 1 crore.
The police arrested Sharma from Samastipur and brought him to Nalgonda for interrogation. Meanwhile, cops also arrested Maruthi Rao, Abdul Kareem, T. Shravan, and the driver Shiva.
Amrutha launched a campaign called "Justice for Pranay " and demanded a statue be erected as a tribute to Pranay at the Miryalaguda junction. Even Tollywood stars came out to support Amrutha. Actor Manchu Manoj paid his deepest condolences while Nikhil Siddhartha said the killers deserved a punishment such that such crimes would not be repeated again.
1,600-page charge-sheet against all eight accused
Nine months after the incident, the police filed a 1,600-page detailed charge-sheet against Maruthi Rao, Abdul Kareem, Asghar Ali, Subash Sharma, Abdul Bari, Shiva (the driver), Shravan, and Nizam. They were charged under Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 302 of the IPC, Section 25 of the Arms Act, and several sections of Prevention of SC, ST Atrocities Act. Maruthi Rao had planned the murder since August, it was revealed.
Maruthi Rao, his brother Shravan, and Abdul Kareem were granted a conditional bail by the High Court as it dropped the PD Act charges against them.
The dramatic end to the brutal honour-killing case
Maruthi Rao was found dead at Arya Vyshya Bhavan in Khairatabad on 8 March. He last spoke to his wife on Saturday evening. At around 8:45 am on Sunday, when his driver knocked on his door there was no response. When he entered the room he found Maruthi Rao lying on the bed.
The police confirmed that he had committed suicide by allegedly consuming poison. His body was taken to Osmania Hospital for postmortem and later to his native place Miriyalaguda.
Amrutha has not spoken about her father’s death yet. She said she never met or spoke to him after Pranay's death.