Ex-jawan beheads seven in vendetta

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 2.12.10
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Hyderabad, Dec. 1: A former CRPF jawan convicted of murdering his wife went on a hunt-and-behead spree in his home village last night, first killing his two children, then five relatives because all had spoken against him in court.

Thirty-eight-year-old Metta Shanker Rao has been arrested.

Out on bail — his appeal against the conviction is pending in Andhra Pradesh High Court — Shanker Rao reached his village, Mettapetta, in Srikakulam district on Tuesday night. The former jawan, who had trained in jungle warfare and was posted in Maoist-infested Chhattisgarh for several years, came armed with bombs, a sword, a sickle and knives. He was not carrying a gun.

The first thing he did was plunged the area in darkness by pulling off the fuse of the main transformer in the village of 600-odd families.

Shanker Rao then started walking down the village road and throwing bombs towards houses, just in case anybody ventured out to challenge him.

His first two victims, police said, were his daughter and son. Shanker Rao found Manasa, 9, and Mahesh, 6, sleeping in their grandmother’s home. He beheaded them and, as if to make an example of their case, he placed their severed heads in front of the local Shiva temple.

His next mission was to kill five relatives who also testified against him in the lower court.

But word had spread despite most villagers being asleep and the relatives, fearing for their lives, were hiding in homes of their neighbours.

Eyewitnesses said when he could not find the five, Shankar Rao started throwing country-made bombs at other people’s homes and yelling that his relatives must be found and brought before him.

The few villagers who had woken up at that hour after hearing blasts did get scared and the relatives — Uta Parvathi, 50, Bodeepalli Damayanthi, 45, Pyla Venkati, 45, Davala Lakshmana, 60, and Erraiah, 50 — appeared before him. At least three of them, Shankar Rao beheaded immediately.

It is not clear at what time the police were informed about what was happening in Mettapetta, which is almost 600km from Hyderabad. When a force arrived there at 5.30am today, they found bodies lying on a street and thought Maoists had attacked.

The policemen were aghast when told that a former CRPF jawan, not Maoists, had done this.

With the help of the villagers, Shanker Rao was nabbed but he gave the police the slip in the darkness. While the police were scrambling to catch him again, he killed the two relatives who had escaped his sword earlier.

Shanker Rao was convicted by a lower court in 2005 for killing his wife Vijayalakshmi. He was released on bail last week. The police have not said why he had killed his wife but villagers said his intemperate behaviour had isolated him from his family.