Hyderabad: Former Congress MP Sircilla Rajaiah's daughter-in-law and three grandsons were found charred to death at his residence here in mysterious circumstances in the early hours on Wednesday.
Rajaiah, his wife Madhavi and son Anil were taken into police custody for questioning in a case of alleged dowry death. Senior police officials have been probing the case from all angles, including suicide.
Following the incident, 62-year-old Rajaiah, who was nominated by the Congress as its candidate for the Warangal Lok Sabha by-election slated for November 21, was replaced by former Union Minister Sarve Satyanarayana as the party's candidate.
"We found four charred bodies that of Rajaiah's daughter-in-law (S Sarika) and his three grand-children," Warangal City Police Commissioner G Sudheer Babu said.
The grand-children were identified as seven-year-old Abhinav, and twins Ayaan and Shriyaan (aged three). All the four succumbed to burn injuries on the spot. An LPG cooking cylinder with its regulator open was found in the room.
Babu said Rajaiah, his wife and son--were among those inside their house when the incident happened on the first floor of the two-storey building at Hanamkonda.
"We have taken them to police station for examination (questioning)...no one has been arrested. After collecting evidence (post-mortem report) and facts, we will take further action," he said.
The four bodies have been shifted to a Government hospital for conducting post-mortem.
Sarika's mother and sister alleged in their native Nizamabad district that her in-laws "tortured her and killed her".
"My sister cannot commit suicide... She was tortured and killed," Sarika's sister alleged.
It was not clear where the other members of the family including Sarika's husband S Anil Kumar were at the time of the incident. Anil and his parents apparently live on separate floors of the same house. The charred bodies were found in a room on the first floor of their Hanamkonda residence.
Asked if it was suicide or murder, Sudheer Babu said, "It's not that easy to come to a conclusion at this stage immediately. We have a lot of ways to find out, and definitely we will do investigation in a scientific manner. It's clear evidence that the death is due to burn injuries...whether burn injuries caused by themselves or someone else caused it... we have to ascertain it through the scientific way."
Asked if deaths were due to fire mishap, he said, "There is still no clarity. We cannot say any thing now. FSL (Forensic Science Laboratory) experts are looking into it. Once they complete their examination, we can say some thing. We are investigating from all angles".
Earlier, Telangana North Zone Inspector General, V Naveen Chand who visited the spot, said that a gas cylinder was found in the bedroom of Sarika. Her parents were in the process of lodging a complaint and hence Rajaiah and the two others were taken away for questioning. As per the contents of the complaint, a case would be registered, he said.
Incidentally, a criminal case was filed against Rajaiah, his wife Madhavi, son S Anil Kumar and another woman, at the Begumpet women's police station in Hyderabad in April 2014, following a complaint lodged by Sarika, who alleged that her husband and in-laws had been harassing her for dowry.
Sarika had also staged a sit-in protest outside Rajaiah's house over the same matter at the time.
Rajaiah, a former MP from Warangal, is contesting the Warangal Lok Sabha bypoll scheduled on November 21.
The Congress is likely replace him in view of the incident. Sources in Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee said that Rajaiah would withdraw his candidature.
The name of former Union Minister of State Sarve Satyanarayana is doing the rounds as a possible replacement.
Today is the last day for filing of nominations for the byelection, necessitated following the resignation of Kadiyam Srihari after he was made Deputy Chief Minister.
Rajaiah, who reportedly expressed inability to contest the byelection under the circumstances, was inconsolable, his aides said.
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