Stephen Raveendra, Hyderabad Police Commissioner
Is Hyderabad fast becoming a Mumbai in crime map of the country? Disputes over lands are being established as cause of crimes. In three months there were three grave crimes involving land and cash and using firearms beside one alleged conspiracy to kill a sitting minister. The disputes are not inter-party but intraparty. MLA and Mayor, Minister and MLA and Mayor and a Member of Municipal Council are at loggerheads. Ironically, most of them are in the ruling TRS.
V. Srinivas Goud is a prominent minister in the TRS cabinet. He hails from Mahabubnagar which is the native district of BJP leaders Jitender Reddy and DK Aruna. Erra Satyam, an upcoming leader, was killed in the district many years ago. On March 1, the former MP Jitender Reddy claimed that four of his associates were kidnapped from his residence in Delhi. The next day, Wednesday, evening Cyberabad police announced that it was their sleuths who picked up those four persons and cracked the alleged conspiracy to kill Minister Srinivas Goud. DK Aruna was quick to reject the police claim and said it was an operation conducted by the pliant police at the behest of the minister. She said the minister was involved in land disputes.
However, Commissioner of Police Stephen Raveendra said that it was Jitender Reddy’s men, namely Madhusudan Raju and Amarender Raju who tried to engage hired killers. “We are still verifying the role of the former MP in the conspiracy. His personal assistant and driver Thapa provided shelter to Manuru Ravi, Madhusudan Raju at Jitender Reddy’s South Avenue residence in Delhi.” Ravindra said Jitender’s personal Assistant Raju had contacted Farooq, with criminal history, with a proposal to kill Goud promising to pay Rs 15 crore. Farooq was reportedly frightened and shared the details with his friend Hyder Ali. On coming to know that Farooq had leaked the conspiracy theory, according to Raveendra, Raju wanted to eliminate both Farooq and Hyder Ali. Farooq and Ali were chased by Raju’s men in Hyderabad Yadaiah, Nagaraj and Vishwanath at Suchitra on Feb 25. Farooq and Ali managed to escape the chasers and complained at Pet-Basheerabad police station. Stephen Raveendra said the police started investigation based on the complaint. During interrogation, Nagaraju was said to have spilled the beans. Jitender Reddy termed the charges as baseless and the four kidnapped persons were given ‘accommodation’ and not ‘shelter’ at his residence.
Stephen Raveendra also said, “We have recovered 9 mm pistol with two live rounds and a country-made revolver with six rounds from the possession of the accused.” This is an alarming revelation. Firearms have come to be used on a regular basis by the alleged criminals in land issues.
Unidentified persons gunned down two persons, a real estate businessman and his acquaintance near Patelguda village of Ibrahimpatnam on eastern part of Hyderabad. Short firearms were used in the double murder. The victims were Srinivas Reddy and his friend Raghavender Reddy. The police who have been investigating the case suspect disputes over real estate venture as the cause of murder. Rachakonda Police Commissioner Mahesh Bhagwat visited the crime scene and constituted special teams to crack the case.
A realtor was killed by his cousin at Tirumalgherry two months earlier and the robbery at Siddipet and the twin murders at Ibrahimpatnam involved firearms. In the Tirumalgherry murder in December 2021, the prime accused Narendra Reddy secured two country-made pistols from Madhya Pradesh through a middleman for Rs. 30,000 to kill his cousin Vijayabhaskar Reddy. The dispute was over land. In the robbery of Rs.43 lakh near Sub-Registrar office in Siddipet at gunpoint, the accused admitted to have secured two pistols from Madhya Pradesh.
Dharani, the digital substitute for the good old pahani, appears to be the cause of unending litigations about ownership of lands in and around Hyderabad whose prices have skyrocketed. This also is the reason for the increasing incidence of crime regarding land issues. The Government is citing increase in land prices as a sign of development. One acre of land fifty kilo meters away from the city costs one crore and if it is on the side of highway, it would fetch Rs. 5 crore. In a developed State, housing, education, health and transport should be affordable. It is not the case in Telangana. A middle class salaried person cannot afford to buy a double bedroom apartment which would now cost anywhere from Rs 75 lakh to 1 crore. Is making basic necessities prohibitively expensive the sign of development?
Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has to bestow his attention on this menace and stop the rot in time so that it would not snowball into a crisis. Bombay underworld activities, kidnapping and bomb blasts started with a dispute about a house and a land. Then it became a phenomenon. This kind of culture was never there in Telangana even in undivided Andhra Pradesh. This environment would affect the social, cultural and economic lives of the people and gangsterism will become the order of the day. Hyderabad will become another Mumbai. It is terrible even to imagine.