Chittoor mayor murdered in her office over 'family dispute'
Two of the five assailants, all of whom have been identified, surrendered before the police, while the remaining three were absconding.
Hyderabad: In a shocking broad daylight incident on Tuesday, Chittoor Mayor Katari Anuradha was brutally murdered and her husband Katari Mohan, a senior leader of the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP), was seriously injured in an attack by a five-member gang in the premises of the Chittoor Municipal Corporation office in Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh.
Andhra Pradesh Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) R P Thakur, speaking to the media after the incident which took place around noon, said the attackers shot Anuradha in her office before moving on to an adjoining room where Mohan was seated. They pumped him with bullets, stabbed him and then fled from the spot. Two of the five assailants, all of whom have been identified, surrendered before the police, while the remaining three were absconding.
Incidentally, Chittoor is the home district of Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu. Chittoor town is notorious for group rivalries in the last three decades.
Mohan has been shifted to the Christian Medical College Hospital at Vellore in Tamil Nadu, where his condition is stated to be critical. According to an eyewitness account, four persons wearing burkha gained entry into the chamber on the pretext of submitting their grievances and opened fire on the Mayor soon after entering. After shooting her, they moved on to attack her husband with knives.
Thakur said both were fired at and attacked by knives. "The attackers first opened fire at the couple, before stabbing them. We are trying to find the motive behind the attack," he said, adding that preliminary investigations revealed that the assailants were from Karnataka.
"As per preliminary information, the attack was carried out following a family dispute. An investigation has been launched and the truth will be revealed soon. The attackers belong to Karnataka and a hunt has been launched to nab them. We will catch them very soon," he said, adding that a pistol and a knife had been recovered from the spot.
The police have dispatched special parties to various parts of the State and had closed check posts at the borders with Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Meanwhile, the chief minister, expressing shock at the murder of his party leader, said it was an inhuman act. Condemning the incident, Naidu said no woman was attacked or killed in the State's political history and it was highly reprehensible. "In the garb of politics, some people are trying to instigate fear among the people and this will not be tolerated at any cost," he said.
The chief minister assured the people that stringent action would be taken against those who were behind the incident, but declined to comment on who was behind the murder. "Those responsible will be brought to book. Two of the assailants have surrendered and other details would come out in 24 hours. Investigation is on and this will be brought to a logical conclusion," Naidu said.
The police have deployed armed forces at vulnerable points in the town to avert any untoward incident. Mohan is the prime accused in the case of attempt to murder of former Chittoor MLA C K Jayachandra Reddy alias C K Babu a decade ago. C K Babu escaped in the attack, while two of his gunmen were killed. The TDP leader had unsuccesfully contested on the TDP ticket from Chittoor for the Legislative Assembly, while Anuradha became the Mayor of Chittoor town after the party won the local elections with a thumping majority.