Avarice, bad company felled them

Lynch victims

Devastated: Shyamala, one of the two wives of Ramesh, the leader of the lynched gang, with her three-month-old child. DH PHOTO

Reddy is one of the 10 victims of the August 2 lynch at Barlahalli and Yerrakote in Chintamani taluk.

Reddy is among the four from Amadagur Mandal in this drought-hit district of Andhra Pradesh, who formed part of the gang that met with the unsavoury fate. The others in the gang also have familial links with people in the region. While three of the 10 victims belong to the Reddy community, most others in the gang belong to a lower caste, and all the gang members were aged between 25 and 38.

The families of the victims blame ‘gang leader’ Ramesh of Mohammedabad for initiating them into dacoity. Cases relating to circulation of fake gold coins have been registered against Ramesh at the Amadagur police station, on the Bagepalli-Kadiri road. Iddevandlapalli is three km away from Mohammedabad.

Seven acres of agriculture land is the only source of livelihood for Narasimha Reddy. The family had got a borewell sunk with loans for irrigating the fields only four months ago.
Whatever little water they got from the borewell irrigates one acre of the land where the first ‘sajje’ crop is yet to be harvested. Iddevandlapalli, nestled among hills, is still to get bus connection.  Borewells are the only water source for irrigation.

With Narasimha Reddy taking to crime, toiling in the fields became Sugunamma’s responsibility long ago. Reddy had left home just two days before he was lynched.
His death has come as a bolt from the blue for the family.

A village elder says Reddy had taken to indulgences like gambling, choking the family’s inadequate income. This was no thanks to the acquaintance with Ramesh for two years now. Reddy’s two children Saikumar and Pavankumar are in classes eight and six respectively. Sugunamma now has no money left even to perform his funeral rituals.

The friendship with Ramesh has also cost Sudhakar Reddy of Karimireddypalli his life. Sudhakar is another of the lynch victims. Sudhakar’s family too owns a piece of agriculture land. His two sons study at a school in the nearby Obuladevuracheruvu village.

People in Iddevandlapalli had not been happy with Narasimha and Sudhakar for being friends with Ramesh, who belongs to the Erukala community, considered a lower caste.

Ramesh owned an MUV (Tata Sumo) and a tractor to plough the fields. Ramesh’s criminal ways has now come back to haunt his family, comprising two wives - Bhuvalakshmi and Shyamala - and four children (including a three-month-old infant).

He made  money by passing off gold-coated coins as genuine yellow metal ones to gullible people in the taluks of Karnataka bordering Andhra Pradesh. He had formed a ‘Dongala Mutha’ (gang of thieves), said people in the villages.

It is said Ramesh’s ancestors were ‘professional’ thieves, but indulged in only petty crimes like lifting chicken from homes in the villages and vegetables from the farms.

Ramanjaneyulu, another of the 10 victims, is married to Ramesh’s sister and hails from Pulivendula in Kadapa district. The other members - Chinna of Cheerala and Hanumanthu - have acquaintances in the region. Two people from Stewartpuram were also among those lynched.

The tearful wives of Ramesh, Ramanjaneyulu and Hanumanthu had this to say: “Our families have long given up criminal ways. Even if our husbands indulged in robberies and cheating, they could have been handed over to the police. Lynching them was unlawful.”

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