Staff Reporter

HYDERABAD: Andhra Pradesh police on Monday sought to end speculation over whether the Vatoli house fire claiming six lives during the recent communal strife in Adilabad district was accidental, when the DGP SSP Yadav asserted that the Vatoli victims were ‘murdered’.

“Their house was set on fire. We have definite clues about the murders. The case would be cracked soon,” Mr. Yadav said while fielding a volley of questions at a press conference here on Tuesday.

But Mr. Yadav was reluctant to divulge more details about the Vatoli incident arguing that no piece of information could be given when investigation was going on into one of the worst communal incidents in recent times.

All angles

To a specific question, whether the assailants were locals or outsiders, the DGP said “Anyone who is not a member of the victim’s family is an outsider. They can be from the same village or any other place.” Police were probing all possible angles including involvement of radical religious organisations. Police had so far arrested 129 persons in connection with the Bhainsa communal clashes on October 10, followed by the killing of six of a family in Vatoli village 12 km away.

Explaining the backdrop of the clashes, the DGP said nearly 25,000 of the 45,000 population in Bhainsa were Hindus. But that was not the case in Vatoli. There were only two Muslim families in the village and that was why one family could be easily targeted and the deaths naturally became ‘communal killings’. The DGP disagreed with a questioner on whether police failed to check the Bhainsa clashes.

He explained that though there was no trouble in the town during Dasara celebrations earlier, the district SP had personally supervised the security arrangements in Bhainsa this year. “We took all precautions from our side,” he assertedHe said the situation was now peaceful and that as many as 147 pickets of Special Police, RAF were posted in Adilabad district.