There is an uneasy calm at Gudigandla, a village around 45 km from Mahbubnagar. It is marked by unusual presence of police and curious onlookers who are trying to get a glimpse of happenings near three houses. The houses are of Jollu Shiva, Jollu Naveen and Chintakunta Chennakeshavulu, three of the four accused in the Disha case who were killed by police in an exchange of fire on Friday.
Off the Raichur-Mahbubnagar road, a dirt road over an open drainage leads to the house of Chennakeshavulu. At the outset, Renuka, his 18-year-old wife, seems calm. But as soon as Chennakeshavulu's name or the incident is mentioned, she breaks down.
Renuka, an orphan who is pregnant, is shocked at the death of Chennakeshavulu. She says, “How can they (police) kill anybody before they are taken to court? I don't know all this. I only want my husband.”
Before she was informed of the exchange of fire by locals and some media persons, she was under the impression that Chennakeshavulu would eventually return home.
“If this had not happened, he would have been in jail. At least, he would have been alive. Many people have committed such crimes, so why my husband was killed. I just want him to come back,” she cries as she continues to question what the future holds for her.
A couple of narrow lanes into the village, which is home to around 1,200 people, is the house of Jollu Shiva. His father, Rajappa, is not at home, but his mother Jollu Manemma, a mother of three, Shiva being the youngest, is distraught. Her voice is hoarse from crying. She says the exchange of fire is ‘cheating’.
“We said we would burn him. But tell me, are the police not educated? There were still days remaining of their police custody. How can you justify this killing? Why was he killed in this manner without anyone’s knowledge? We will just leave his body (and not perform the last rites),” she says as she breaks down and is later taken inside the house by her relatives.
Jollu Naveen's parents were not at home.
A 10-minute drive from Gudigandla leads to Jakkulare. This is where the prime accused in the Disha case, Mohammed Arif’s parents live in their single-room dwelling. Villagers say Arif’s parents Hussain and Molan Bee are engaged in agricultural work.
A few irregular-shaped stepping stones lead to their house. While Arif’s father does not wish to speak, his mother, who is sobbing, sits on her haunches on the floor outside their home comforted by locals.
“I heard from the others he was killed. I don’t know anything. He just came home one day and said that the lorry was being driven and that a woman died. He told us to go to sleep and then he slept. The police came after midnight and took him away. Who will feed me now? What will I do? I don’t know anything,” she says.