The probe into the YS Vivekananda Reddy killing took another twist on Friday, 21 April, with the surfacing of a statement made to the CBI in 2020 by the second wife of the murdered former Andhra minister.
The unexpected development took place even as the investigating agency grilled YSRCP MP YS Avinash Reddy — whom it accuses of conspiracy to murder, along with his father YS Bhaskar Reddy — for six hours for the third consecutive day over his role in the affair.
In her 2020 statement to the CBI, Sheik Shameem, said to be the second wife of Vivekananda Reddy, popularly known as Viveka, claimed her marriage to the slain former Andhra Minister was conducted twice — in 2010 and 2011 — and they begot a baby boy in 2015.
She alleged in the statement that Narreddy Sunitha Reddy, Viveka’s daughter from his first wife, and brother-in-law N Shiva Prakash Reddy, were unhappy with her marriage and had threatened her multiple times.
They asked her to stay away from Viveka, who is the paternal uncle of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, she claimed in her newly surfaced statement.
Viveka was found murdered in his Kadapa home on the intervening night of 14-15 March, 2019.
Friday’s developments came even as the Supreme Court described as “atrocious” and “unacceptable” the stay on his arrest by CBI granted to Avinash Reddy by the Telangana High Court.
What did Shameem say?
In her 2020 statement, Sheik Shameem said a political power struggle raged within the family, which led to Viveka’s defeat in the 2017 MLC elections.
According to her, Shiva Prakash also opposed Viveka’s plan to purchase four acres in their son’s name. The family was also enraged after he underwent a religious conversion.
Viveka started facing financial problems after the family members revoked his cheque-drawing powers.
“Vivekananda Reddy used to tell me that he would get ₹8 crore from a land settlement deal in Bangalore (Bengaluru) and promised to secure my life with that money,” she told investigators, according to sources.
Shameem informed the CBI that she had spoken to Viveka a few hours before he was murdered. However, she did not have a last look, fearing a threat from Shiva Prakash Reddy.
She came to know about the murder through television news channels.
Shameem further said Viveka’s family members sidelined him politically.
Avinash Reddy and his father Bhaskar Reddy — currently being probed by the CBI for conspiring to murder Viveka — constantly opposed him, and the family was witness to a political power struggle, she contended.
Shameem also said that while Sunitha Reddy’s husband Narreddy Rajasekhar Reddy eyed Viveka’s properties , his brother-in-law Siva Prakash Reddy wanted to inherit the political legacy.
Deprived of love
She said that Vivekananda did not get the love he deserved from his family.
“He told me nobody cared if he had food or not. He found love in me. He took care of me financially and renovated my parental house at Balpanuru and constructed one more floor for our stay,” Shameem said
Viveka gifted her a car when she was pregnant, besides registering eight cents in her father’s name. He also provided ₹8 lakh each and ornaments for the marriages of her two sisters.
However, he soon started facing financial problems. “He told me that his family members had stripped him of cheque-drawing power,” Shameem said.
In 2017, Vivekananda Reddy lost the MLC election as YSRCP candidate “due to sabotage by his family members, Bhaskar Reddy, Avinash Reddy, and YS Manohar Reddy. Their followers did not vote for him”, Shameem claimed.
Avinash Reddy questioning
Meanwhile, the CBI, in its questioning on Friday of Avinash Reddy and his father Bhaskar Reddy, focused on the financial transactions and Call Data Records (CDR) of the suspects.
The CBI is racing against time to meet the Supreme Court-set deadline of 30 April to complete the probe.
The interrogators sought to know why the suspects in the case, who are in custody, were in constant touch with Avinash Reddy after the murder.
Avinash Reddy’s father Bhaskar Reddy and their aide Uday Kumar Reddy, too, were brought from the Chanchalguda prison to the CBI office for interrogation on Friday. They were arrested on Sunday, 16 April.
Focus on ‘supari’
The CBI also checked the financial transactions the suspects have carried out before and after the murder. The bank accounts of all the suspects were checked after allegations were raised that contract killers were hired for ₹40 crore to eliminate Viveka.
The investigators focused on the suspected role of Avinash Reddy and Bhaskar Reddy and others in the “supari”, or contract to kill, deal.
Another key factor the CBI looked into was the motive behind the attempt to pass off the murder as a case of cardiac arrest.
Viveka was alone at his Pulivendula residence in Andhra Pradesh’s Kadapa district when he was murdered on the intervening night of 14 and 15 March 2019.
Avinash Reddy was reportedly the first to reach the 67-year-old Viveka’s residence after the incident.
The YSRCP MP also faced questions on the alleged tampering with evidence and a botched attempt to hide the injured part on Viveka’s head with a cotton bandage during the six-hour-long interrogation on Friday.
Though attempts were made to make Viveka’s death a result of cardiac arrest, a post-mortem examination found stab injuries on the body.