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24 suspects attend court in Pedavutapalli shooting case


Gandham, Bhutam families were locked in a bitter feud over business interests

Twentyfour suspects out of the 45 arrested in the sensational Pedavutapalli shooting case attended the hearing at Gannavaram court amidst tight security on Friday.
Gandham Nageswara Rao (55), his sons G. Pagidi Maraiah (38) and G. Maraiah (36), all astrologers, were gunned down by their rivals on National Highway 5, under Unguturu police station limits in Vijayawada Police Commissionerate, on September 24, 2014.
Rao and his sons, belonging to Pinakadimi village, Pedavegi mandal in West Godavari district, were on their way from Gannavaram airport to Eluru to attend a court case pertaining to the killing of hotelier Bhutam Durga Rao, when the incident occurred. Durga Rao was shot dead on March 9, 2014.
Love affair triggered feud
The four murders occurred in a span of six months and two attempted murders reported in Ranga Reddy and West Godavari districts over a love affair between Bhutam Umadevi, daughter of B. Govindu and Turapati Shiva Krishna, son of T. Nagaraju. Incidentally, Bhutam Govindu, brother of Durga Rao, is also an astrologer.
The couple got separated after Umadevi lodged a harassment case against her husband, and the situation turned nasty when Durga Rao was shot dead. This triggered the killing Nageswara Rao, Maraiah and Pagidi Maraiah.
Members of the Bhutam and Gandham families are spread across Australia, UK, Canada, US, Thailand, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and New Delhi and other places. Both families engaged hired killers from the Kalyanpuri area in New Delhi to eliminate their rivals.
Prime accused at large
The East Zone police, who are investigating the case under the supervision of Deputy Commissioner of Police K. Praveen, arrested 45 out of the 49 accused. One of the prime accused —Bhutam Govindu — fled to a foreign country and three members of a New Delhi-based supari gang are at large.
Conviction soon Speaking to The Hindu, East Zone Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), B. Vijay Bhaskar said 16 suspects who were in Rajahmundry Central Prison and eight more who were on bail attended, court on Friday. The remaining suspects filed an absent petition.
“The hearings in the case are over. The court may deliver the final judgment and award punishment to the accused during the next hearing, scheduled for November 18. All the 45 suspects will attend the next hearing,” the ACP said.
The AP Police issued a Red Corner notice to nab Bhutam Govindu and efforts are on to arrest the other three accused in the case, Mr. Vijay Bhaskar added.