Tension eased somewhat in Kurnool town on Wednesday, 24 May, with the CBI team, probing the YS Vivekananda Reddy murder case, apparently deciding against arresting YSRCP Kadapa MP YS Avinash Reddy from a hospital where the lawmaker is caring for his mother.
Avinash Reddy’s supporters are still laying siege to all roads leading to the Viswa Bharathi Hospital at Gayatri Estates ever since the CBI team reached the town on Monday.
Avinash Reddy is wanted for the murder of his uncle and former Andhra Pradesh minister, which came to light on 15 March, 2019, ahead of the general elections.
Vivekananda Reddy, popularly known as Viveka, was murdered at his Pulivendula residence in the Kadapa district on the intervening night of 14-15 March, 2019. He was also the the paternal uncle of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.
The CBI officers have adopted a wait-and-watch strategy to avoid possible untoward incidents.
Apparently, the team would wait for the outcome of Avinash Reddy’s anticipatory bail plea, which the Telangana High Court would hear on Thursday.
Any attempt to arrest Avinash Reddy might invite trouble, affecting other patients in the hospital. Additionally, swooping down on the hospital would also prove counter-productive.
Cadres maintain vigil
Though the CBI decided against entering the hospital and arresting Avinash Reddy, the MP’s supporters — who gathered around the hospital on 19 May, the day Avinash Reddy admitted his mother in Viswa Bharathi, were still keeping vigil at the hospital.
YSRCP leaders have reportedly directed the party workers to turn any suspicious person away, even as the Lok Sabha member sequestered himself in the hospital.
They apprehended that the CBI might swoop in, as Avinash Reddy skipped the CBI’s interrogation on 19 May and rushed to Pulivendula to see his mother.
In fact, Avinash, on his way to Pulivendula, met his mother’s ambulance while it was on its way to Hyderabad somewhere near Tadipatri in the Anantapur district.
Avinash then shifted to the ambulance and decided that she be admitted to Viswa Bharathi Hospital in Kurnool, which is run by a doctor who hails from Pulivendula. The doctor’s family is close to Avinash Reddy’s.
Though the CBI acceded to his request to postpone the interrogation for some time, it asked him to appear before it on 22 May. But the MP wrote back to them saying that he wanted more time and has been with his mother at the hospital since then.
The only time Avinash Reddy has shown his face to the party workers was while seeing off Chief Minister Jagan Mohan’s mother YS Vijayamma on Monday evening.
Vijayamma had driven down to Kurnool to see Avinash’s mother Sri Lakshmi as both families are related. He came out of the hospital along with her and saw her off at the main gate, before returning inside.
Local police’s assurance
The local police, meanwhile, assured the CBI team they would escort them safely out of Kurnool after they arrest Avinash Reddy. But they made it clear that they would not arrest the MP on the CBI’s behalf.
Speculation was rife that the CBI would barge into the hospital in the small hours of Wednesday and leave with Avinash Reddy.
Sources said the CBI team in Kurnool on Wednesday comprised just a junior officer and a couple of constables. They have been tasked with apprising the seniors about the developments on the ground.
On Tuesday, there were two full-fledged CBI teams in the city — one liaising with the local police, while the other gauged the situation on the ground, especially in and around Viswa Bharathi Hospital.
Viveka’s sister visits hospital, backs Avinash
Meanwhile, Viveka’s sister Vimala Reddy came out in support of Avinash Reddy. She accused the CBI of arresting the wrong persons while the guilty were outside and moving about freely.
“Avinash Reddy is being targeted,” she said after visiting Sri Lakshmi.
Vimala Reddy told reporters that Sri Lakshmi could not cope with the fact that her husband has already been jailed and the CBI was gunning for Avinash Reddy.
The CBI arrested Avinash Reddy’s father Bhaskar Reddy on 16 April.
Vimala Reddy also accused her niece, Viveka’s daughter Narreddy Sunitha Reddy, of trying to harm Avinash Reddy under the influence of evil forces.
Viveka was murdered in his bathroom in his house in the Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh in 2019.
Bhaskar Reddy and Avinash Reddy’s names figured in the murder case that created a sensation before the Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh in 2019.
Bhaskar Reddy has been charged under Sections 120B (conspiracy), 302 (murder), and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as he played a crucial role in the case, according to the CBI.
The CBI also said that a ₹40 crore “supari” (contract to kill) was offered to the accused to eliminate Viveka.
The Supreme Court last November transferred the case from Andhra Pradesh to a Special CBI Court in Hyderabad for investigation and trial into the conspiracy behind the murder case.
The apex court’s decision came on a petition by Viveka’s daughter, Dr Narreddy Sunitha Reddy, who had in the past alleged that Avinash Reddy was hampering the CBI probe.
Sunitha Reddy was also instrumental in having the investigation, which was being probed by a Special Investigation Team set up by the Andhra Pradesh police, transferred to the CBI.
Meanwhile, the CBI, in its counter filed in the high court, opposing anticipatory bail to YSRCP MP Avinash Reddy, mentioned about his mobile phone calls from 6 pm on 14 March to 8 am on 15 March in 2019.