A woman software professional from Andhra Pradesh and her seven-year-old son were found dead in their New Jersey home in the U.S. on Thursday.
On a complaint from the woman's husband Narra Hanumantha Rao, also an IT professional with a New Jersey-headquartered MNC, the police have launched a probe into the killing of 40-year-old Sasikala and Anish Sai in their home in Burlington, New Jersey.
Mr. Rao, on return from work, allegedly found his wife and child “in a pool of blood” and “with their throats slit”, according to a news report from New York. Mr. Rao hails from a remote Thimarajupalem village near Parchur in Prakasam district.
Mr. Rao had dropped his son at school in the morning and his wife, who works from home, had picked him back in the evening.
Mr. Rao’s mother, Siva Parvathi, was inconsolable and said her son was in a state of shock.
The couple had been married for 14 years and lived in the U.S. for 10 years, said Mr. Rao's uncle, Ramesh, unable to come to terms horrific incident.
Foul play suspected
Ms Sasikala’s parents, S. Venkateswara and Krishnakumari, who live in Vijayawada, however, have alleged foul play in her death. The couple, both retired teachers, told the media that their daughter had complained to them of being ill-treated by Mr Rao and that he had an illicit relationship.
Mr. Rao's parents maintained that the police had released their son after an inquiry on Thursday night and denied ill-treatment of their daughter-in-law.
Not a hate crime: Police
Law enforcement officials have denied the killings were a hate crime or a result of bias against the Indian origin of the victims, according to a statement provided to PTI by the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office. “The preliminary probe revealed the victims were stabbed multiple times,” the statement said.
Incident raises anxiety
The double murder again raised concerns among families of Indian software professionals working in the U.S. as the incident comes close on the heels of the gunning down of Srinivas Kuchibhotla at Kansas and Vamshi Reddy in California.
TDP MLA from Parchur Y. Sambasiva Rao got in touch with the functionaries of the Telugu Association of North America and requested Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu to make necessary arrangements for bringing back the bodies.
Chief Minister Naidu tweeted: “'Pained to hear about the killing of Sasikala & son Sai in New Jersey, US. My condolences to the family members”.
The issue found an echo in Parliament with members of both Houses expressing concern and demanding that the matter be taken up with the U.S. President by the Prime Minister.
Raising the issue during the Zero Hour in Rajya Sabha, Congress member T. Subbarami Reddy said the wife and the son of a software engineer were “brutally killed” last night.
Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien too expressed shock over the incident and said the matter should be taken up at the highest level.
He also asked Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi to convey the incident to the External Affairs Minister.
In the Lok Sabha, Ongole MP, Y. V. Subba Reddy of YSR Congress Party also raised the issue and asked the government to take a “very strong stand” in protecting Indians in the U.S. He appealed to the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to take up the matter with the U.S. administration and ensure the safety and security of Telugu people who had migrated to the U.S.10 years and did not complain of any problem there, said Mr. Subba Rao, who used to be in touch with his son over phone on a daily basis.
Pall of gloom in village
Meanwhile, a pall of gloom descended on the sleepy village, with a steady stream of visitors reaching the bereaved family of Mr. Subba Rao, a farmer.
Coming to know of the double murder, Parchur MLA Y.Sambasiva Rao sought the intervention of the Telugu Association of North America (TANA) and Chief Minister N.Chandrababu Naidu to bring back the bodies of the deceased to their native village.
This is the latest in a series of recent violent incidents involving Indian IT professionals in the U.S.