Youths push her on to the road where she comes under the wheels of a lorry

A 45-year-old woman paid the price for trying to protect her daughter from a group of youths, who were allegedly drunk, late on Monday night here. The incident occurred when the woman along with her elder daughter came to Gandhi Chowk, a popular shopping centre here, to shop on Monday night. They were returning home when the girl, a B.Tech student, was stopped by a group who had just come out of a bar. Her mother reportedly reacted and slapped one of the boys.

Pushed under lorry

The enraged youngsters soon began abusing the mother and daughter and in a fit of rage, pushed the mother against a lorry causing her grievous injuries on her head and body. Eyewitnesses told the police that the youths dragged the woman and pushed her on to the road. The woman came under the wheels of a lorry and died hours later in a hospital at Mangalagiri. The woman was identified as Bethala Kanthasuneela (45) and she was the wife of Bethala Babu Rao, a teacher working in the Municipal High School at Tenali.

Mr. Babu Rao in a written statement to the police said that two policemen, one of them on a motorcycle on duty at the scene of the crime, did not react even after his daughter raised an alarm. “It was painful that even locals did not come to the rescue of my wife and daughter. I reached the spot within minutes and saw my daughter trying to pull out her mother who fell under the wheels of the lorry,” Mr. Babu Rao told The Hindu.

When contacted, DSP, Tenali, Tulasi Ram Prasad, denied the charges and said that a lone head constable was present at the police outpost, located about 500 metres away from the scene of the offence. The constable on duty was among the first to reach the spot and called out an ambulance, the DSP said. “It all happened within a minute. The police did not have time to react,” he said.

The police said that they had arrested all the seven accused. Superintendent of Police, Guntur Rural, J. Satyanarayana, told The Hindu that they would explore legal options whether to slap charges according to Nirbhaya Act or not. The police have slapped charges of murder and cases under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act) against the accused.

The incident sparked protests by Dalit associations who alleged that the police were trying to protect the accused. The protests assumed political overtones after YSRC leader Ummareddy Venkateswarulu visited the relatives at the hospital.