Young guns revive Rayalaseema wars

FP
The bloody factional wars of Rayalaseema in Andhra Pradesh which seemed to be ebbing, have erupted again, with sons of leaders who were killed or jailed taking over the region's chilling tradition of murders, lynchings and dramatic executions.

In the latest manifestation of the decades-old violence, Paritala Sriram, son of the late Telugu Desam politician and a prominent factional leader Paritala Ravindra, has been accused by the police of trying to murder the Congress's K Sudhakar Reddy, another factional leader.

Sriram is on the run and the police have launched a massive manhunt to track him down. Police teams raided the Anantapur house of Sriram's mother Paritala Sunita, who is a TDP MLA from Raptadu, and other places owned by the family in search of Sriram.

Anantapur police have booked Sriram for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to kill Reddy on Monday after a failed attempt last Saturday. Sriram allegedly funded and supplied weapons to a gang of 16 men who lay in wait near a village Reddy was expected to visit, to attack him.

However, police raided the place after being tipped-off and arrested three people while the rest fled. During interrogation, the three are believed to have told the police that they were mercenaries hired by Sriram to kill Reddy. The two families have been fighting over political clout and land issues, and are also involved in the Kamma-Reddy caste conflict.

Reddy is accused in the murder of three people in 2011, including a woman associated with the Paritala family and the TDP. Sriram is being accused of reviving revenge killings by targeting Reddy's family.

Sriram has been booked for attempt to murder and for providing several lakh rupees to hire the alleged killers and buy weapons, SP Shahnawaz Qasim said. "The people we arrested are all hired killers. They say that Sriram hired them to do the job," he said.

However, Sriram's mother Sunita has complained to the Assembly Speaker N Manohar that her son was being falsely implicated by the Congress. "My son was planning to go abroad this month and to spoil his plans, he has been booked falsely in this case," she said.

The decades-old factional wars in the Rayalaseema districts of Anantapur, Kurnool and Kadapa had abated to about four or five incidents in a year from its peak when hundreds were killed.

Gangula Suryanarayana Reddy alias Suri, one of the last factional leaders, was shot dead in Hyderabad in January 2011 and it appeared the factional wars had ended with the killing as the Gangula and Paritala families had fought each other for over four decades.

Paritala Ravi was himself shot dead in January 2005 by a gang owing allegiance to Suri. The violence inspired the two-part Ram Gopal Varma film, Rakta Charita.

"The younger generation appears to be going the same way as their fathers did years ago, forming gangs and hiring mercenaries to take revenge against other families with whom their fathers had enmity. They have no qualms about wanting to become faction leaders even today," said an investigation officer.

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