- Colleagues refused to release victim's body, seeking enhanced security
- The accused was angry over delay in officials correcting his land records
- Police said the murder was planned, to seek death penalty in court
In a shocking incident that has raised questions over the security of government officers in Telangana, a tehsildar with the state revenue department was allegedly burnt alive by an angry land owner at her office in Abdullapurmet today.
According to witnesses, the accused entered Vijaya Reddy's office with passbooks related to his property this afternoon. The door opened again half an hour later, and much to the horror of everybody present, the tehsildar rushed out in flames. Although Vijaya Reddy's fellow-employees wrapped her in a blanket in an attempt to douse the flames, she died soon afterwards.
Sources said that the accused -- identified as Suresh Mudiraju -- had sneaked a bottle of kerosene into Vijaya Reddy's office along with his land documents. He has been admitted to a private hospital at Hayathnagar for burns suffered in the incident.
A driver and two other people who tried to save the victim were also injured.
The incident comes amid growing resentment in Telangana over alleged discrepancies that have cropped up in land records in the course of an ongoing digitisation drive. According to sources, Suresh Mudiraju was furious about the authorities not fixing errors in his documents despite making multiple trips to the revenue office and even getting a court order in this connection.
"Suresh Mudiraju did not act on impulse. He came to the victim's office with a plan," said Rachakonda Police Commissioner Mahesh Bhagwat, adding that the accused was also in a critical condition with 50-60 per cent burns.
"We are investigating if the accused acted on somebody else's orders. How did he enter the office? We will probe this case on priority and try him in a fast-track court. We will demand capital punishment for him," he said, adding that charges of attempted murder will also be filed against Suresh Mudiraju on account of injuries caused to others at the scene.
Telangana Minister Sabitha Indra Reddy condemned the incident. "People should understand that government officials do their best to serve them. If they have complaints, there is a process in place to get them heard by a superior," she said.
Until reports last came in, revenue department employees were blocking a nearby road to demand better security for government officials -- not allowing police to move the body.
Amid an increase in complaints of irregularities and corruption in filing land records over the last few months, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had earlier promised to bring in legislative and bureaucratic measures to ensure that the people's grievances are addressed. Many state welfare programmes such as the Rythu Bandhu, which provides investment support per acre of land, are linked to property ownership.