We live in a state that has been ranked the second-‘best‘ city for corruption—Hyderabad. Various news sources reported that on November 4, a Monday, at around 1:20 PM in the afternoon, a man identified as Suresh, a farmer-cum-real estate businessman, entered the chamber of Vijaya Reddy, a Mandal Revenue Officer (MRO), torched her mercilessly with fire over a land dispute argument. While hearing the loud commotion as the officer, succumbing to serious injuries, was screaming out for help, her driver Gurunatham and employee Chandraiah rushed to save her but were both severely injured. The three of them including Suresh were shifted to different medical institutions but Vijaya Reddy died on the spot.
Nowadays in the streets of Hyderabad, I have noticed that it has become common for people to get murdered over disputes of land, money, personal, or financial loss. On the other hand, it is found that the duties of the Telangana Police officers are limited to only issuing challans (fines) for reckless driving or not wearing a helmet. Well, most of the time, half of the police force is commissioned to either control the congested traffic and register the cases of careless or drunkard drivers and when it comes to safety, awareness, and education of pressing crimes, not a single one of the governing bodies are seriously looking into these matters.
When we look five years back, a sudden bomb explosion in Hyderabad saw an immediate response from mobilised troops of military, policemen, and investigation agencies to ensure the safety of residents by the orders of the then chief minister. The implementation of proactive plans to combat against terrorists on the ground was proposed and the council meetings chaired by the chief ministers, cabinet ministers, and a few politicians decided the fate of the city to avoid further predecessor attacks such as Gokul Chat and Mecca Masjid bomb blasts.
In the coming days, for the sake of more public awareness and their convenience, high-pitched mikes were installed at the nearest bus stops, railway stations, and at every corner of the traffic signals from where recordings of non-stop buzzing audio clips were played to caution the people to report any unusual activities to nearby police stations.
First, let us understand the motive and circumstances of the murderer for committing this serious offense. Undoubtedly there are many questions that one should be asking the authority as to how an outsider can enter the MRO premises. How did this all happen in broad daylight when a lot of visitors and security personnel were present to maintain tight security, and how the security guard could not verify that the individual was carrying a petrol bottle in his hands.
It is sad to know that Gurunatharam who sustained 80% burns died on November 5 at Apollo DRDO Hospital. In the meantime, the prime accused Suresh was undergoing medical treatment at Osmania Hospital, but he has also succumbed to his injuries. The police officials had stated in their investigation report that due to the explosive fire coming in contact with the A.C. duct, the fire had spread out to Suresh and two others.
Vijaya Reddy who hailed from Nagole, in Ranga Reddy district was recently appointed as the Regional Mandal Officer (MRO) and was honored to receive the ‘best Mandal officer’ award in the year 2018. Earlier, she was a government teacher but soon after quitting the job she decided to prepare for MRO exams and nailed it. Her husband, Subhash Reddy is a Botany lecturer at Himmayat Nagar college. They both have two children, a ten-year-old daughter and a five-year-old son studying at primary school.
As of now, the last rites of Mandal officer Vijaya Reddy were conducted in her hometown Nalgole and many, including family, relatives, friends, and colleagues, attended her funeral procession. After that, hundreds of MRO officers protested against the state government’s negligence towards not fully committed to deploying security guards for their protection.
They also protested against the chief minister of Telangana KCR for apparently making controversial statements questioning the Mandal officers’ credibility, saying that they are all corrupt in a public gathering. In relation to this supposed publicity stunt, which they believed might have caused restlessness in the atmosphere and resulted in the death of a respected and honored sincere officer, the mass protest and boycott of work continued for three days. They said that it would continue unless and until the chief minister publicly apologised for his remarks, as asserted by the grieved employees.
There are lakhs and crores of property cases pending in the revenue department when any landowner or proprietor risks the rounds of touring municipal regional offices. They get frustrated while listening to the long-awaited reasons of the departmental head for not clearing or settling their property matters. People are irritated with the slow functioning of government departments, especially when one particular file roams everywhere.
Although we cannot say that the entire fault is within the system, one of the very dedicated and hardworking public servants, Vijaya Reddy was doing her routine work on that particular Monday, considered to the busiest day, when all of a sudden a farmer raged in anger and poured petrol and burnt her alive.
For sure, our condolence would always remain with her family. In regards to her murder, we must ask a straightforward question, that how a public servant, who works for their people first and the country next, gets killed in the daytime. This brings us to questioning again and again how the government has been failing to protect their own, and how they can claim to ensure the security of the civilians.