ANDHRA PRADESH

Gun culture is here to stay



J. R. Shridharan

Till Nineties, crude weapons were used

VIJAYAWADA: Long known for gang wars and faction feuds, Vijayawada witnessed many murders executed for both political and personal reasons.

In most of these instances, the criminals used rather crude instruments such as axes, spears, sickles, knifes and even crude bombs to eliminate the targets. Even the murder of former Congress legislator Vangaveeti Mohana Ranga Rao in 1988, which led to largescale violence throughout the State, saw use of these hardware instruments and crude bombs.

But the early Nineties began to see incidents of guns being used as weapons to attack or assassinate the rivals in Vijayawada. In broad daylight, naxalites shot down a reserve sub inspector of police Emmanuel at Pushpa Hotel Centre in 1991, when he went to the hotel for a cup of tea. The incident shook Vijayawada, as a gun had never been used before to commit a crime.

But the most sensational murder involving a gun was the assassination of SitiCable managing director Potluri Ramakrishna, who was waylaid and killed by his business rivals at Ratnamba Street near Executive Club on September 20, 1998.

A year later, one Katamraju Lakshminarayana alias Panthulu, was gunned down in One Town by assassins allegedly hired by an owner of a beauty clinic near Benz Circle.

On August 27, 2004, a day before the Krishna Pushkarams were to begin, Telugu Desam leader Katragadda Nagamalleswara Rao (Babu) narrowly escaped an assassination attempt at his M.G. Road residence by assassins allegedly hired by his archrival Vangaveeti Santan Kumar, who escaped attempt on his life on Friday. Though the assassins fired a couple of rounds of bullets from a close range, Mr. Babu escaped.

Friday's failed attempt on Santan is the fifth in this series of incidents, where a gun was used to eliminate an important target.

An increasing number of instances have, of late, been happening with gun being used by small time rowdy-sheeters and goons to threaten or fire at rivals. The recent incident of firing at a passenger in Kanyakumari Express has highlighted the prevalence of this gun culture.

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