Amaravati: The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Thursday granted bail to Janipalli Srinivas alias Kodi Kathi Srinu, an accused in the 2018 knife attack on Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy.
A division bench of Justice Durga Prasad Rao and Justice Kiranmayee Mandava granted conditional bail to Srinu, who has been directed to submit a personal bond of Rs 25,000 with two sureties and appear before Mummidivaram police station every Sunday.
The court, which had reserved its orders on Srinu’s bail petition on January 24, also directed him not to speak to the media about the case.
Srinu’s mother Savitri welcomed the court order. She said her son got the punishment for a crime which he did not commit.
Srinu, a worker at a food joint at the Visakhapatnam airport, had attacked Jagan Mohan Reddy, then the Leader of Opposition, on October 25, 2018 at the airport with a knife, injuring him on the shoulder.
The security personnel had overpowered Srinu.
As he had used a knife normally used in cockfights, he came to be called “Kodi Kathi (rooster knife) Srinu. He has since been languishing in jail but for a brief period when he was out on bail.
As Jagan Mohan Reddy, who became the Chief Minister in 2019, has been avoiding attending the trial court to depose before the judge, the trial could not start.
Srinu’s family has been demanding that either he be released on bail or put to trial.
Srinu approached the High Court to release him on bail by setting aside the order of the Special Judge for Trial of NIA Cases, Visakhapatnam, who said Srinu was not entitled to bail because of the provisions of Section 6A (b) of Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety Civil Aviation Act of 1982.
Srinu’s counsel Abdus Saleem had contended that Srinu is eligible for bail as he had been in jail for five years. The court was also informed that there is no progress in the trial as Jagan Mohan Reddy is not appearing before the trial court to record his statement.
Srinu had reportedly gone on hunger strike in Visakhapatnam Central Jail last month demanding justice. Some Dalit leaders who called on him in prison have voiced concern over his deteriorating health.
Suspecting a conspiracy by the then TDP government behind the attack, the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) had moved the state high court, seeking a probe by a central agency into the case. Based on the court direction, the Centre handed over the case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which registered the case on January 1, 2019.
Srinu was granted bail by the NIA Court Vijayawada on May 23, 2019, and released on May 25. However, the bail was cancelled on August 16 the same year after the NIA approached the state high court. After nearly four years of investigation, the NIA informed the court on April 13 last year, that there was no conspiracy behind the attack.
However, Jagan’s legal team claimed that there was indeed a conspiracy to eliminate him, as the accused had worked under a TDP leader.
The NIA Court, Vijayawada dismissed Jagan’s appeal on July 25, 2023. However, the order was challenged in the high court and has since been pending.