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After lawyer couple’s murder, protests across Telangana courts and demands for protection for advocates

The brutal murder of advocates Gattu Vamana Rao and his wife PV Nagamani on a busy highway in Peddapalli district earlier this week, has led to widespread protests from lawyers across the Telangana. Several petitions have been filed before the courts, even as advocates abstained from their duties and took to the streets blocking roads and holding candlelight vigils.

In a statement condemning the brutal murder, Telangana Bar Council chairman A Narasimha Reddy said the country is witnessing frequent attacks on advocates and urged the government to enact the Advocates Protection Act to safeguard the lawyers’ community. Vamana Rao’s father has sought a CBI probe alleging larger political conspiracy in the murders.

On Thursday, Bar Council of India chairman Manan Kumar Mishra called the incident ‘an onslaught on the freedom of the profession’. In a press release, he said “the frequent threats and attacks on the lawyers have established that the Advocates are not at all safe anywhere in the country. It is proving to be exceedingly difficult and even fatal for the Advocates taking up the peoples cause.”

This is the echo across the fraternity in the state too. Stating the morale of advocates across the state is down since the incident, Manjusha Ettovoni, former vice-president of the Hyderabad City Civil Court Advocates Association, said advocates are like other professionals who discharge their duties, and it should be without any fear. “This incident has sent shivers down our spines. I have 40 young interns, most of the parents want them to quit the profession and go back. The terror associated with the incident will further alienate young lawyers, especially women, from fighting for justice. The incident also shows that it should be the responsibility of the government to protect them,” she said.

Ettovoni lamented that even if the passengers of the buses at the spot had raised their voices, the lives could have been saved. “Everyone just kept watching. It is so ghastly that one can hear Vamana Rao requesting for water and ambulance while people continue to film his death,” she added.