Amrutha Varshini, widow of Perumalla Pranay Kumar, had not been in contact with her father Tirunagaru Maruthi Rao since the murder of her husband in September 2018. On 9 March, when she reached her father’s funeral, emotions were running high. The news of Maruthi Rao’s death came at around 9 am on Sunday and soon police force, too, was deployed to avert any unforeseen situation.
When she visited the graveyard where the last rites were being conducted, slogans blaming her for ‘killing’ her father and of ‘Maruthi Rao amar rahe’ (long live Maruthi Rao) were raised.
Twenty-four-year-old Pranay Perumalla was purportedly hacked to death in Telangana in a caste killing in 2018, which was allegedly committed by a hitman arranged by her father.
Maruthi Rao, the main accused in Pranay's murder, was found dead under suspicious circumstances in a room at Arya Vysya Bhavan in Hyderabad's Khairatabad area on Sunday, 8 March, after he checked into the room on Saturday night.
Amid these developments, Telugu media channels decided to go on a moral-policing overdrive.
Just minutes after the news broke out, Rajinikanth Vellalacheruvu, managing editor of TV9Telugu, tweeted, “Keeping aside the bad things of Maruthi Rao, his father's love is capable of killing and dying.”
T Maruthi Rao, the prime accused, in the killing of Pranay, belongs to the Vyshya community. Rao allegedly killed Pranay because he couldn't accept a Mala man marrying his daughter.
This tweet drew many responses from users, with several sympathising with the main accused.
TV9 Telugu’s news anchors also condoned Pranay’s killing. This is what a news anchor had spoken, as reported by The News Minute: “Dear Amrutha, please go to your mother. This is Maruthi Rao's last wish. In his dying declaration, he cried ‘Amruthamma!’ and breathed his last. Unable to kill the affection towards his daughter, he killed himself. That's how much Maruthi Rao loved his daughter. He must have recalled the sin which he committed and would have been upset within. That's why, hoping that his death would melt his daughter's heart, he breathed his last. Now, as per Maruthi Rao's last wish – Will Amrutha get closer to her mother? The distance which grew due to the murder, will it be bridged due to the suicide?”
Later, a photo of his suicide note was circulated which was reportedly found next to his body: “Girija forgive me. Amrutha, come to mother.” This note is being examined by the forensics team.
Another Telugu channel, 10TV, presented a justification for Rao’s actions, by interviewing Abdul Kareem, a local Congress leader. Kareem, also accused in the murder of Pranay, suggested that Rao would’ve killed himself as he was under depression because his daughter didn’t reciprocate his “love” and return home, reported The News Minute.
Many Twitter users, however, took to the micro-blogging site to remind everyone of the gory details, and also slammed the news channels for their warped coverage.
(With inputs from The News Minute)