Saidabad rape: Of grieving family, police incompetence and political tamasha

On September 16, Saidabad rape accused Pallakonda Raju was found dead on the railway track near Rajaram- Station Ghanpur.

By Sumit Jha  Published on  16 Sep 2021 7:53 AM GMT
Saidabad rape: Of grieving family, police incompetence and political tamasha

Hyderabad: On September 16, Saidabad rape accused Pallakonda Raju was found dead on the railway track near Rajaram- Station Ghanpur. This comes days after Hyderabad police announced a reward of Rs. 10 lakh to any person who gives information about Pallakonda Raju.

Raju is the main accused in the rape and murder of a six-year-old girl at Saidabad. Earlier, the news of Raju being arrested surfaced on September 10. Locals believe that the announcement of the arrest was to divert the attention and calm down the tempers. "When we received the news, the situation calmed down in our locality. However, we were not satisfied. Serving speedy justice is our primary goal," said a victim's neighbor.

By the evening of September 11, locals were in for another shock when police denied arrest and announced a reward.

The Incident-Timeline

According to the family, the six-year-old girl was playing outside her one-room house on the evening of September 9. "Since she was playing, her mother went to cook food," said the grandfather of the kid.

At around 6 pm, the accused, whose house is separated by a wall, came and enquired about the kid from her mother. "It was odd; he had never visited us before, never talked to us. He was staying here for almost three years. No one knows when he comes and goes. He never interacts with anyone," said the grandfather.

Unsuspecting, the mother told him that she was playing. When the girl did not return for a long time, the family became restive. "We thought she went to visit her aunt's home. We enquired from her but she denied having seen her," he said.

Most of the residents of the slum are daily wage earners. Almost all the houses are covered with asbestos sheets. The locality is dependent on HMWSSB for freshwater.

By 6:30 pm, the family started searching for the girl. Soon the entire slum joined in. "The nearby masjid announced about the missing girl. Two police personnel came and asked about the kid," said a neighbor.

Police said they received a complaint via WhatsApp and started searching for the girl in the lanes of the slum.

By, 7 pm, the family got suspicious of the accused. They visited his house but it was locked. "We told the police personnel that the kid might be inside the house. We asked them to break the lock. They told us that the girl might have visited the Ganesh Pandals nearby," said the grandfather.

Cops searched all the pandals but to no avail. They also scanned CCTV footage of the nearby locality.

"Raju always locks himself inside the home after returning from work. He works as a welder. We have seen him going to work only twice or thrice in a month. We also suspect he survived by stealing," said a 70-year-old neighbor.

Police were reluctant to break the door. Police said they can't break the lock without any formal complaint and cannot barge into someone's house without a formal complaint.

Police along with the locals broke the lock by 12:30 am. A video of the breaking in has been circulating on WhatsApp. In the video, one can see a mattress rolled over and covered by a banner. When police checked the mattress, they found the girl's body.

"What if they had opened the lock earlier, maybe she would have survived. She would have been taken to the hospital. Sub Inspector did not let us break the lock," said the grandfather.

Police said they received the formal complaint at 12:05 am. "We immediately rushed and broke the lock," said the SI at the Saidabad Police Station.

By 12:30 am, protests broke out in the locality. The family refused to hand over the body to the police for the post mortem. They demanded immediate arrest of the accused. "When the protest broke out, around 400-500 policemen along with State Reserve Police were deployed in the area. Locals started stone-pelting and did not allow the body to be taken for the post mortem," said the neighbor. Locals also ransacked the house of the accused.

According to the neighbor, the body of the girl was snatched by the police at around 3 am. "While taking the body of the girl, there was resistance from the locals. We took the body to Osmania General Hospital and at 11 am, the post mortem started." said the SI.

By evening, the last rites of the girl were performed after news spread that the accused has been arrested

"We were not able to grieve, I am not able to accept the fact that I have lost my granddaughter in a heinous crime," said the grandfather.

Pallakonda Raju- The Accused

According to police, the accused is around 30 years of age. Locals claim that he is a 'psychopath'. "He doesn't have a father. His mother bought this house and he was staying with her. He used to beat his mother," said the 70-year-old neighbor.

Another neighbor said that his mother married him a year ago so that he can behave normally. "Things were normal after the marriage. He has a kid who is around four months old. His mother left him three months back and last month his wife also left," said a neighbor.

For youngsters, he was a snob. "Even when we used to greet him, he never responded. All the time he used to stay inside the house. He doesn't even use a smartphone. He has a keypad phone," said a 22-year-old neighbor.

The politics

Family only wants justice and has nothing to do with politics. For politicians, the incident has given an opportunity to hit out at the government.

With police and government officials goofing up, politicians have a field day to do politics over the gruesome incident. BJP corporator from Saidabad joined the protest rally on September 10. Later when the news traveled to other politicians, they also turned up to gain public attention.

Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee President A Revanth Reddy visited the family on September 13 and handed over around Rs 50,000. Similarly, BJP National Vice President DK Aruna also visited the family on September 14.

The issue snowballed into a major controversy when KT Rama Rao retracted his tweet on September 14. Sensing the opportunity, the new political entrants made a beeline to meet the family.

On September 15, YS Sharmila, the founder of YSR Telangana Party also visited the family.

Huge crowds gathered near the victim's house when the news spread that actor and Jan Sena President Pawan Kalyan was visiting the family.

The actor turned up by around 5 pm and was not able to enter the slum. Parents of the family had to come out to meet the actor in a nearby lane.

On September 16, Home Minister Mahmood Ali, and Women and Child Welfare minister Satyavathi Rathod visited the family.

"First it was police inability to take action on time; second, people were misled about the arrest of the accused and now these politicians. They will get their pictures clicked and after few days will forget the family. I have seen it over the years," said the 70-year-old neighbor.

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