‘Do Not Disturb,’ Says AP Prof’s Leave Note Before Alleged Murders
Andhra professor wanted to return to work after ‘religious ritual’, reveals text communication to principal.
The Government Women’s Degree College in Madanapalle, Andhra Pradesh, had an uneventful existence till 25 January when one of its teachers was accused of murdering his two daughters, 27-year-old Aleikhya and 22-year-old Sai Divya.
On the day, Andhra police arrested V Purushottam who is an associate professor at the college along with his wife Padmaja, reportedly while they were performing an occult ritual after allegedly beating their children to death with dumbbells.
The Quint has found out that the father, who had taken a week's leave, was planning to return to normal work after a ‘religious ritual’ he was planning to perform.
Talking to The Quint, D Venugopal Rayapati, principal of the government college, said, “Purushottam sent me a text message stating he will return to work on 27 January.” In the leave note the faculty member had asked his principal “not to disturb” him during his absence.
Purushottam also told the principal that he would be “attending a deeksha” (religious ritual) from 19 to 26 January. “He told me that he needs leave and I granted him leave as there was no reason for suspicion,” said Rayapati.
The principal said that Purushottam seemed positive about rejoining work after leave for a week. Purushottam also seemed serious about the religious ritual which he was planning to perform as he wanted school authorities to “leave him alone” during the time.
“I did not ask him anything further because he is not someone who takes leave often. I felt it must have been urgent,” the principal said.
Two days before his leave was to end, on 25 January, Purshottam had allegedly confessed to the gruesome murder to his friend over the phone. When the police, who got tipped off by the friend, reached the professor’s home they found the daughters in a pool of blood and the parents in a trance-like state.
Purshottam and his wife Padmaja are now arrested and remanded to judicial custody for 14 days.
‘No Students Inducted into the Cult’
According to Purushottam's colleagues, he was “an excellent faculty member” and was involved in no activities that drew suspicion. He was punctual at work and interacted with both teaching and non-teaching staff, his colleagues reminisced, even as they condemned the alleged murders.
One of them said, “His daughters used to visit the college. Can’t believe that they are gone.” While Aleikhya was a student at a private college in Bhopal, her sister Sai Divya studied at another college in Andhra Pradesh.
The murder has left female students in the college shell-shocked, the colleague added. “He always seemed like an approachable person for students. Never did we think that he would commit such a crime,” the teacher, who did not want to be named, said. "His interactions with people were always professional, and I never heard him discuss religion with anyone,"he added.
Purushottam, an MSc degree holder in Chemistry, used to teach the subject to under-graduate students.
“Looking back, the fact that he was interacting with so many female students gives me the chills. The only relief is that he never tried to induct students into the cult,” a faculty member said.
The college and Andhra Pradesh Police have interacted with Purushottam’s students to check whether the professor had tried to entice them into following his alleged occult religious practices.
Police Probing 'Occult Influence'
Chittoor Police, who have been poring over confession statements made by the accused, said that they were investigating the influence of local cults in the murder.
“The parents were under the impression that things would return to normal once the children wake up. They told us that interruption of the ritual could have prevented that from happening. We need to find out whether the parents were influenced by any external religious teachers,” a senior police officer in Chittoor told The Quint.
The family did not raise any suspicion in their Madanapalle neighbourhood too because they seemed like any other family - regular middle class job, educated, with two college-going daughters. “Neighbours remember them as people who used to water their plants and go for vacations. They seemed absolutely normal till the day this happened,” the police officer said.
The police are still probing whether the murder was premeditated. “The fact that the professor took leave shows there was some planning. We do not know since when they were so inclined,” the officer said.
It has also not yet been ascertained whether the couple suffered from mental illness, the officer said.
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