TELANGANA: HONOUR KILLINGS
A young widow fights her father to avenge her ‘lower’ caste husband’s honour killing
Amrutha Varshini watched Perumalla Pranay Kumar, her 24-year-old husband, hacked to death with a machete outside the Miryalguda hospital where the young couple, expecting their first child, had come for a check-up on September 14. Distraught she may be, but Amrutha is also determined to see the killers, allegedly including her own father, a real estate developer from the Vysya community, T. Maruthi Rao, punished.
Police say Rao paid
Rs 1 crore to hire Subhash Kumar Sharma, a contract killer from Jagatsinghpur in Bihar, to kill his son-in-law. The hitman was contacted through Mohammed Bari, an accused in the 2003 killing of Gujarat home minister Haren Pandya. Having arrested three accused, investigators have found out that earlier attempts to murder Pranay in August were aborted since the killers lacked precise details of his whereabouts. Also admitting a lapse, police said the couple had informed them about the threat from Rao.
Sweethearts since school, Amrutha and Pranay dropped out of college to wed in Hyderabad in January. Rao had made several attempts to dissuade his daughter, to no avail. She says her father had Pranay murdered because he was of ‘lower’ caste. Besides criminal conspiracy and murder, Rao and the other accused have also been booked under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Undeterred by the tragedy that’s befallen her, Amrutha has not only spoken out against her family but is also demanding a special law to ensure exemplary punishment for caste-based honour killings. “I can’t live without him, but I will, for my baby, and to fight against the caste system,” she says. Both the young widow and her father-in-law, P. Balaswamy, have rejected the ‘generous’ compensation— cash, a two-bedroom house and a plot of land—offered by the Telangana government. Balaswamy says all he wants is to see the killers hang after a fast-track trial.
Amrutha, meanwhile, has found support from Gowsalya Shankar, whose Dalit husband was murdered in Tiruppur, Tamil Nadu, in March 2016. Specially travelling up to Miriyalguda, she told Amrutha how she steadfastly fought more than 50 bail applications her parents submitted. Eventually, the Tiruppur
Amrutha is demanding a special law to ensure exemplary punishment for caste-based honour killings
district court convicted eight of the 11 accused, and handed six, including her father, a death sentence.
“My aim is to ensure the killers are punished and the caste system is dismantled,” says Gowsalya. She has since also instituted a trust in her husband’s name to ensure gender equality, help marginalised children get education and eradicate caste. A tall order, but she’s working on it.
STAR-CROSSED LOVERS Amrutha and Pranay