Ayesha Meera, the 19-year-old girl from Andhra’s Tenali who was brutally raped and murdered in 2007
Ayesha, a resident of Tenali town in Guntur district, was a student of Nimra engineering and medical college in Vijayawada, located 100 km away from her home. She was staying at Sri Durga Ladies Hostel in Ibrahimpatnam village near her college.
Ayesha’s blood-soaked body was found in the hostel toilet. Her legs and hands were tied to a water tap and an iron rod with her own dress in the morning on December 27, 2007.
Her head was in a pool of blood. It was clear that it had been banged on the wall, and that she’d become unconscious before she was brutally raped.
An autopsy report stated that she wasn’t only raped, but that even after she died, the attacker hit her head with an iron rod. Police couldn’t find any other evidence except a love letter written allegedly by the killer, and some blood stains on Ayesha’s clothes.
Police first said a youth named Anjanneyulu was the accused in Ayesha’s murder.
However, it was revealed that he was a scapegoat. Police couldn’t counter the evidence produced by the his family, and he was let off.
Sitting next to a shelf of awards Ayesha had won in the past, her mother, Shamshad Begum says that they have faced nothing but apathy from the investigating authorities, the government and even the girls Ayesha shared her room with.
“The hostel warden’s husband, Inampudi Shivaramakrishna, called me at 6.15am on December 27, 2007. It was a Wednesday, and just the day before, I had dropped my daughter off to the hostel after her semester break. He told me that it was something serious and that it was related to my daughter. Then he demanded that we reach the Vijayawada hostel immediately and hung up,” Shamshad recounts.
Shamshad called Shivaramakrishna thrice afterwards, but could not get any more details out of him.
Ayesha’s father, Syed Yaqbal Basha, and Shamshad took all the money they had in their locker, and along with their relatives, rushed to Sri Durga Women’s Hostel in Vijayawada, where Ayesha was staying.
“When our auto was entering the road where the hostel was located, there was a huge crowd. We panicked. When we arrived, the warden did not inform us of what had happened. I knew something bad had happened. I just did not expect my daughter to be dead. I still have the vivid image of her lying on the floor with blood flowing out of her head. Sometimes I even see it in my dreams, although not as often as I used to,” Shamshad says.
Ayesha’s father, Syed Basha says that when they made inquiries with Sub Inspector Srinivas and Circle Inspector Murali, who were on the scene, they were stonewalled and refused any answers about what had happened.
“Our last resort was to look for my daughter’s roommates – Kavita, Sowmya and Preeti. When my wife had gone to drop Ayesha to the hostel she had even spoken to them. But they just dismissed us and said that they knew nothing,” Syed Basha says.
“Preeti said that it was not her duty to keep track of Ayesha’s whereabouts. We were so shocked. How can a person respond so coldly?” he asks.
Ayesha’s parents allege that former Congress Minister Koneru Ranga Rao’s grandson, Koneru Satish, frequently visited the hostel along with other relatives including Koneru Suresh, Abburi Ganesh, Chinita Pawankumar and Rakesh. They also allege that the warden, Koneru Padma, allowed them to enter the girls’ hostel as they were relatives.
“These men used to frequently visit Preeti and the two other girls when Ayesha was not in the room. As the police were not doing a fine job of investigating the incident, we enquired on our own. Ayesha had seen these men that night in her room, and they were drunk. They smashed her head against the wall to silence her, as she told them she would complain about the incident,” Shamshad Begum alleges.
A year later, after what many alleged to be a wild goose chase and an improper investigation, the police produced an accused – Satyam Babu.
Then police nabbed Satyam Babu, who is poor, fatherless, belongs to a down trodden community, and was suffering from a deadly nervous disease.
After ensuring that he could’t prove himself innocent – as he got nobody to back him or prove his innocence – he was framed in the case.
Satyam Babu can’t walk on his own, can’t even stand on his own, and needs two people to attend to him all the time.
The prosecution argued that this physically-handicapped person had climbed two stairs and crossed the iron security mesh and killed the girl in such a merciless manner. Ayesha was raped and killed inside the ladies hostel, which was locked securely from inside by the warden and guarded by a security person.
She was not alone in the room. There were two other roommates with her on that fateful day, but nobody heard any noise.
Nobody knew what happened, nor did they see anything while their roommate was raped and brutally killed.
There were no traces of anything – the killers, foot prints, finger prints, sweat traces, hair, excess blood in the corridor. Everything was wiped off clearly, even before police reached the spot.
Shamshad and Basha say that they have always maintained that Satyam Babu was innocent and that the police were trying to botch up the investigation because it involved the grandson of a powerful politician.
“When Satyam Babu was arrested, the Vijayawada Police Commissioner, Seetharamanjaneya, had taken over his questioning. The poor man was tortured and they stopped assaulting him after one of my friends informed us. When we went to the Ibrahimpatnam Police Station, where he was being held, he was unconscious. We requested the police to stop the torture and strongly told them that he was not the one who had brutalised our daughter,” Syed Basha alleges.
Ayesha’s parents also allege that the trial held in the Women’s Sessions Court was also botched up.
“When the Public Prosecutor was supposed to question me, she put a paper in front of me and asked me to read it out. Half the things written in it were untrue, even my daughter’s age. I told the Judge that I would do no such thing and recounted what I believed was the truth. Even at that time I had told the Judge that Satyam Babu was innocent,” Shamshad alleges.
Ayesha’s parents grimly accept Satyam Babu’s acquittal on Friday by the High Court, and say that Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu should now direct the authorities to fully and properly probe the case.
“Since Satyam Babu was arrested in 2008, we told the police, the media and even the Judge in the Sessions Court that he was not the culprit. Now that he has been acquitted, it is obvious that our daughter’s killer is still out there. We will approach CM Chandrababu Naidu next week and submit an application to reopen the case. Our daughter did not end up dead just like that. Someone has killed her and he is still free. The investigators were trying to protect the killer, which is why they set up Satyam Babu,” asserts Syed Basha.
“When our daughter was murdered, Chandrababu Naidu had promised us that he would ensure that the investigation was done properly, and also promised a speedy trial once he became the CM. Now he is in that position and we hope he will listen to our plea for justice,” Shamshad adds.
The teacher couple have lived in Tenali for 35 years now, since Syed Basha began working as a Class 7 Mathematics teacher in Sri Aurobindo Vidhya Kendra. Shamshad Begum now works as a part-time Commerce lecturer in a college there.
The couple had quit their jobs for two years after Ayesha’s death, and fought tooth and nail for justice. Even now, they refuse to give up hope that justice will be done. Their lives, though, are a shadow of what they once were.
“After Ayesha’s death, it became unbearable for us to live in that house, surrounded by memories of her. I could see her in every part of the house. She was a very good Bharathanatyam dancer and was learning Indian classical music. She had also won many awards for her dancing. Now we can only remember her through pictures and those trophies,” Shamshad says.
Although the family moved to a new house in Tenali two years after Ayesha’s death, her photograph is still prominently visible in the new house. The living room bears displays of trophies Ayesha won, but also of more intimate memories of the child lost – a few of the toys she played with as a child, including her favourite Barbie doll.
“I gave away most of the toys while we were moving, but we couldn’t part with these. They are the only things left of her,” Shamshad says as she breaks into angry tears.
Pidatala Satyam Babu was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2010, in the Ayesha Meera rape and murder case.
Pidatala Satyam Babu, a youth who was sentenced to life in the Ayesha Meera rape and murder case, was released today ( April 2, 2017 ) from Rajahmundry Jail in Andhra Pradesh.
In a landmark judgment, the Hyderabad High Court on Friday not only acquitted Satyam Babu, but also awarded him compensation worth Rs 1 lakh compensation for putting him in jail for eight years.
The court reprimanded police for jailing him without cause, or proper evidence to show his involvement.
After breathing the fresh air of freedom following his eight year jail term for a crime he did not commit, Satyam Babu on Sunday said that truth has finally prevailed and called for stringent punishment against the real perpetrators of Ayesha Meera, who was brutally raped and murdered in 2007.
“At last truth has won, I suffered in jail for eight years. Now the real culprits in Ayesha Meera case should be punished,” babu told media here.
Inordinate delay is a part of our Indian judicial system and sometimes innocent people have to wait for justice for uncertain period. Highlighting this facet is the case of Satyam Babu.
Babu, rotted in prison for eight years on the charges of rape and murder of Ayesh Meera in Vijaywada back in 2007.
The needle of suspicion immediately after the murder was pointed to Koneru Satish, the local gram panchayat sarpanch and grandson of then minister Koneru Ranga Rao. Another suspect was Congress leader C. Madhav Rao, the president of the local mandal parishad.
There were allegations that Satish and Madhav Rao used to visit the hostel at night and were having parties in the warden’s room as they were close to the management.
TD leader N. Chandrababu Naidu, who was in the Opposition in undivided AP at that time, had demanded the arrest of Satish and sought a CBI probe. In 2009, he had promised in his election campaign that he would order a re-inquiry into the murder if his party came to power.
Soon after the murder, police had claimed that it was the fallout of a “love affair” between Ayesha and her uncle.
The cops tried to book her relatives at Tenali. When they faced protests, the police took into custody one Sivanjaneyulu, tortured him, took him to Hyderabad, interrogated him, ran tests and declared him the culprit. His family approached the State Human Rights Commission and the police let him off based on its directions.
After this, the police arrested Upender Singh of Jagtial, and alleged that he was facing a rape and theft case. Almost 15 days after his interrogation, conducting blood tests and examining his handwriting, the police presented him as Ayesha’s murderer. He was also let off after his mother Lakshmibai and complained to the SHRC.
The police took into custody Gurvinder Singh Anand alias Laddu, via a prisoner transit warrant. He was subjected to several tests. Cops claimed his footprints matched those at the scene. He was placed in judicial custody. His family approached the SHRC, alleging that he was implicated.
Money offered: Lawyer
Mr Pichuka Srinivas, defence lawyer for Satyam Babu, who appeared before the trial court at Vijayawada, said that after dragging the case for nine months, and branding several as accused, the police chalked out a plan to conclude the investigation with the use of “modern scientific aids” like DNA and handwriting test and matching of footprints.
“They zeroed in on Satyam Babu who at that time was in the sub-jail in Krishna district for some other offence. The cops lured him with a huge sum to confess to having murdered Ayesha. Satyam Babu came from a poor Dalit family.
With a sister and mother at home and being the sole bread-winner, he accepted the offer and was shifted to Rajahmundry. There, the evidence was cooked up,” Mr Srinivas said.
“Though the families of the others moved the SHRC, Satyam Babu’s family could not avail legal remedies at the initial stage due to their weak financial position and there were threats from the police. The police took advantage of the physical disability of Satyam. The youth changed his mind after an attempt by the police to eliminate him by creating an false escape drama at Suryapet while he was being taken to Hyderabad,” the lawyer said.
He said there were minor cases against Satyam Babu, like one for cellphone theft.
“There were no rape case against him. The cases pertaining to an assault on one Vangapati Radha and an alleged rape attempt on a girl were foisted on him by inserting his name in the FIRs.
In these, the accused was shown as “unknown” and all the cases were acquitted by the High Court on previous occasions.”
No proof on Satyam Babu
Srinivas said there was no evidence against Satyam Babu, except for a report from the forensic lab that said the footprint of Satyam matched with the one at the scene of the crime, as also his handwriting.
“Even these are not believable as the director of the forensic lab, Dr Venkanna, who gave the forensic report in the case was corrupt. He was caught by the ACB for taking a bribe to give a false report in another case.”
He stated that the police had claimed that Satyam Babu’s motive was that she had “rejected” his offer of love. The cops claimed that is why he had written a letter after killing her, and left it at the scene. This was proved to be baseless.
Mr Habeebur Rahman, president of the Muslim United Front which agitated for the arrest of the culprits, said Satyam Babu was not a psycho as was projected by the police.
He demanded a CID probe by reopening the case, and action against the officers responsible for pursuing wrong leads.
He sought Rs 1-crore compensation to the family of Satyam Babu, besides a government job and a house for him.
Three Police Commissioners of Vijayawada including C.V. Anand, K. V. R. N. Reddy Seetharamanjaneyulu were changed during the course of investigations.
M. Srinivas the then SDPO of Nandigama was instrumental in arresting Satyam Babu in the murder case.
The police claimed that they found at the scene of offence a love letter written by Satyam Babu, blood stains on Ayesha’s dress and a handwritten word ‘Chirutha’ (leopard) using a marker written on Ayesha’s chest.
The defense lawyer brought out on record that the forensic science laboratory at Hyderabad works under the DGP of the State and as such it is clear, as is seen from the record that they acted and danced to the tunes of the police department.
The murder took place in the intervening night of 26/27 December 2007 and it came to light on 27 morning.
Satyam Babu was arrested on August 17, 2008 and was convicted on September 29, 2010. Satyam Babu moved an appeal before the High Court on October 28, 2010 and the High Court acquitted Satyam Babu on March 31, 2017.
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