Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Fault in Our Stars? An Andhra Astronomer, Love, and Contract Killings

A rich astrologer from Andhra Pradesh, suspected to be in London for the last three months, is alleged to have paid Rs. 1 crore to contract killers to have his rivals assassinated in Vijayawada late last month. The men who were killed were suspected of having the astrologer's brother shot dead last year.

The police in Vijayawada say what is emerging is an international plot of intrigue, cash and murder that spanned London, Mumbai, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh.

The millionaire astrologer, Butham Govindu, was reportedly unable to reconcile to his daughter's marriage to his relative-turned-arch-rival's son.

On September 24, 70-year-old businessman Gandham Nageswara Rao and his two sons landed at the airport in Vijayawada from Mumbai to attend a court hearing. En route, they were shot dead by a group in an SUV.

The mafia-style killing in broad daylight near Vijayawada shocked Andhra Pradesh, which plans to build its new capital in this region. A top police officer from Vijayawda was sent to Delhi to work with the police there because the assassins were suspected to be from the capital.

The most masala of Bollywood films have nothing on the plot that was uncovered, say investigators. There was an elopement that convulsed into an unhappy marriage, political ambitions and rivalry, a killing and a dramatic revenge killing.

Butham Govindu, who is said to have made his millions across the world predicting the future, was reportedly furious when his daughter married the son of his relative Nagaraju a few years ago. The marriage soured, and the tension between both families escalated, with both sides aspiring for political clout.

The astrologer's brother was murdered in April last year by contract killers from Mumbai who reportedly worked for an underworld don based in Malaysia. Nagaraju and his close friend were among the main accused.

The police says that the astrologer spent the last few months plotting revenge. The five killers he reportedly hired were equipped with arms and ammunition, cash, and an SUV for the drive-by shooting that would take place in Vijayawada.

Four have been identified and arrested in Delhi; one is still missing. The Vijayawada police says it will now seek the help of the London police to track down the astrologer.