YSRCP lawmaker sentenced to 18-month jail Dalit atrocity case | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

YSRCP lawmaker sentenced to 18-month jail Dalit atrocity case

By, Hyderabad
Apr 17, 2024 08:54 AM IST

YSR Congress party lawmaker Thota Trimurthulu sentenced to 18 months in prison for a 27-year-old case of assaulting Dalit youths.

A special court for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes cases in Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam on Tuesday sentenced ruling YSR Congress party lawmaker Thota Trimurthulu to imprisonment for 18 months in connection with a 27-year-old case of tonsuring of two Dalit youths and beating up three others.

The 11th additional district judge, heading the special court, also slapped a fine of <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>2 lakh on Trimurthulu, the prime accused in the case. (File)
The 11th additional district judge, heading the special court, also slapped a fine of 2 lakh on Trimurthulu, the prime accused in the case. (File)

The 11th additional district judge, heading the special court, also slapped a fine of 2 lakh on Trimurthulu, the prime accused in the case.

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The judge also imposed six months’ imprisonment and a fine of 22,000 on each of the nine other accused – Thota Babulu, Thota Ramu, Thota Pundareekakshudu, Thalatam Murali Mohan, Devalla Kishore, Thota Srinu, Mancham Prakash and Achanta Rama Satyanarayana.

Of them, Mancham Prakash died in the course of the trial, which went on for more than 27 years.

Trimurthulu, presently a state legislative council member, is contesting the May 13 assembly elections on YSRCP ticket from Mandapeta assembly constituency in Konaseema district. Soon after the judgement, Trimurthulu and others applied for bail.

The incident dates back to December 29, 1996, when Trimurthulu, belonging to Pedda Kapu community, was an independent MLA from Ramachandrapuram assembly constituency in the then combined East Godavari district.

The incident happened at the MLA’s residence at his native village Venkatayapalem, about 7 km away from Ramachandrapuram. The MLA’s men picked up five Dalit youth – Koti Chinna Raju, Dadala Venkataratnam, Challapudi Pattabhiramayya, Kanikella Ganapathi and Puvvala Venkataramana – all in the age group of 25-30 years, from the village and brought to his residence. While Chinna Raju and Venkataratnam were tonsured, the other three were severely beaten up before being let off.

The Dalit youths were apparently working as polling agents of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the local polling station and resisted the alleged attempts of the MLA to rig the polls in the 1994 assembly elections. As they continued to question the MLAs’ alleged dominance in the village after the elections, it enraged him, prompting him to take revenge on them on December 29, 1996.

The incident came to light only six days later, on January 4, 1997, when a local reporter of a vernacular daily highlighted the incident. Based on the news report, the then East Godavari superintendent of police Aditya Tripathi came down to the village, spoke to the victims and personally registered a first information report (FIR).

On January 7, the police arrested Trimurthulu and a chargesheet was filed for against him and others under Sections 342 (wrongful confinement), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt with a weapon), 506 r/w 34 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code, and under Section 3(iii) and (x) of the Scheduled Castes And the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention Of Atrocities) Act, 1989, within two weeks.

The then MLA and others came out on bail after the chargesheet was filed. After that, the hearing of the case went on and on, with the accused moving from sessions court to the high court. “The case was adjourned for a record number of 146 times,” a local journalist said.

Finally, the case was shifted to the special court for SC/ST cases in Visakhapatnam in 2021 for trial and after prolonged trial, the judgement was delivered on Tuesday.

Beginning as an independent MLA, Trimurthulu later joined the Telugu Desam Party and from there, he defected to the Praja Rajyam Party in 2009 and later to the Congress, before returning to the TDP in 2014. In 2019, he joined the YSRCP but lost the elections. He was made an MLC later. Now, he is trying his luck from the Mandapeta assembly segment in the coming elections.

“There is no need for my supporters to get disheartened. I shall appeal against the judgement in the high court and I am confident of getting justice,” Trimurthulu told reporters after the judgement.

Hailing the judgement in the 27-year-old case of tonsuring of Dalits, Andhra Pradesh Bahujan Joint Action Committee (JAC) president Pothula Balakotaiah said justice prevailed ultimately, though it was delayed by more than two decades. “The judgement will uphold the self-respect of the Dalits,” he said.

Balakotaiah appealed to YSRCP president and chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy to drop Trimurthulu from the party and strip him of the party ticket in the coming assembly elections from Mandapet. “Otherwise, no Dalit will vote for the YSRCP candidates in the elections,” he said.

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    Srinivasa Rao is Senior Assistant Editor based out of Hyderabad covering developments in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana . He has over three decades of reporting experience.

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