Visakhapatnam: The arrest of a ward president of Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Surada Yellaji, has opened a pandora's box on a hijra racket that forced young boys to dress up as hijras and sent on the streets to earn money by hook or crook.
The modus operandi of Yellaji was to trap young and good-looking boys. They were then dressed-up in women's clothes and photographed. Yellaji would force these boys to beg or use other means to earn money and give that money to him by the end of each day. They were also set daily targets ranging from Rs 300 to Rs 1,000. Those who failed to achieve their daily "targets" were subjected to severe torture and those who refused to do his bidding were blackmailed using the photographs. A complainant stated that Yellaji would send the photographs to their family members if they refused to obey his orders. Using these means, the TDP ward member made a fortune that ran into several crores of rupees and was spread over a decade in "successful" business. His victims numbered over 300, according to a complainant.
That big money brought big influence as Yellaji is considered a lieutant of Visakhapatnam (South) constituency MLA Vasupalli Ganesh Kumar. An illustration of his influence came to light about two years ago when a hijra named Anusha escaped his tentacles along with a person named Kishore.
After an extensive hunt, Yellaji traced her to Vijayawada and in a couple of days Anusha was found murdered. Police at that time had registered a case of 'death under mysterious circumstances'. Yellaji had recently trapped a youth, Ganesh, by intoxicating him with spiked drink. When Ganesh regained consciousness, he found that he was dressed up as a woman and photographed. When he protested, the photograph was promptly sent to Ganesh's wife. He managed to escape and lodged a complaint at the Two Town police station. He also stated in his complaint that his wife deserted him due to the photograph sent by Yellaji.
The TDP leader was arrested by the police. During investigations city police commissioner T Yoganand also checked the Anusha murder case. He converted the 'mysterious death' case to a murder case and launched a fresh probe.
Remote Operations From Prison
Scores of Yellaji's victims sensed freedom following the arrest. Many of them started narrating their ordeal at different police stations in the city. However, about 50 of his victims told the police on Sunday that Yellaji is threatening them from the jail through his henchmen. They sought protection from the TDP leader.
However MLA Vasupalli Ganesh Kumar has openly declared his support for Yellaji. He also rejected calls for removing Yellaji from the TDP.