Hyderabad, Nov 9 (IANS) The factional violence in Andhra Pradesh's Rayalseema region raised its ugly head again as a man accused of murdering former state minister Paritala Ravi was allegedly killed by another prisoner in Anantapur district jail early Sunday.
Julakanti Srinivasa Reddy alias Moddu Seenu died on the spot during a clash with an undertrial around 4.30 a.m., according to the police.
Om Prakash, involved in some murder cases, hit Seenu on the head with dumbells (used for physical exercises) and an iron rod, resulting in his death. He also pierced the iron rod in the victim's eyes and cut off his ears.
The police arrested Om Prakash and four others lodged in the same cell and are questioning them.
The incident has shocked the authorities and given a new twist to Ravi's murder and the factional violence in the Rayalseema region.
While the government tried to dismiss it as a clash between two prisoners, the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) saw in it a conspiracy by the Congress government to eliminate evidence in Ravi's case to shield Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy's son Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy and Minister for Panchayat Raj J.C. Diwakar Reddy.
The TDP demanded resignation of the chief minister while the latter denied the government's role in the incident and offered to order any enquiry.
Family members of Seenu alleged that the murder was pre-planned as he was willing to turn an approver in the case.
They also claimed that Congress leader Suryanarayana Reddy alias Maddela Cheruvu Suri, the alleged mastermind in the Ravi murder case, got Seenu eliminated. Suri, who was lodged at the same jail, had allegedly threatened to kill Seenu if he turned an approver.
Ravi, a former minister and a notorious factional leader, was gunned down in Anantapur town January 24, 2005. His family members and the TDP had blamed the chief minister's son and a state minister for the murder.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is probing the murder of Ravi, who was blamed for killing several Congress leaders.
Suri had earlier made an attempt to kill Ravi in November 1997 at Jubilee Hills in Hyderabad. Though Ravi escaped unhurt, 25 people were killed and many injured in the bomb blast that Suri set off, the police said.
Seenu's family members said the jail authorities failed to protect him despite his complaint against Om Prakash.
Seenu, a dreaded faction leader, had gone underground after killing Ravi. He had also given an interview to a television channel owning responsibility for killing Ravi and threatened to kill two other politicians.
He, however, was caught under dramatic circumstances in Nov 2005 at a lodge in Chandanagar on the outskirts of Hyderabad. He was injured while trying to assemble an explosive device in the lodge.
Addressing a news conference in Hyderabad, Naidu demanded a judicial probe into Seenu's murder and said it was aimed at suppressing truth to protect the chief minister's son and the minister. He wondered how dumbells and rods found their way into the prison cell.
However, Chief Minister Reddy denied the role of his government in the killing. 'What is the need for the government to get him killed. We are ready to order any sort of enquiry, including a CBI one,' he said.
The Rayalseema region comprising Anantapur, Kadpa, Chittoor and Kurnool is notorious for factional violence. Factions fighting for supremacy in villages and backed by political parties have been engaged in bloody fighting for several decades.
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