Tekuri Karnam Purushottam Rao, better known as T. Purushottam, was a human rights lawyer and activist from Mahabub Nagar, Andhra Pradesh. He was Joint Secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC), a prominent human rights organization. T. Purushottam represented victims and survivors in several cases of human rights violations, particularly extrajudicial executions by the police. He wrote a number of fact-finding reports, and carried out several human rights awareness programmes. In 1993, he helped release 30 people from forced labour in a brick kiln in a village near Mahabub Nagar. In 1994, as an advocate, he filed a petition in court in the case of the death in police custody of a rickshaw puller, securing the conviction of two police men and obtaining compensation for the rickshaw puller’s wife. In 2000, he was involved in trying to file a case against the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister related to the killing of two protesters demonstrating against an electricity tariff hike by the police.
On 23 November 2000, T. Purushottam had come out of his house to buy groceries, when he was attacked by four men with swords and axes. His wife said that his body had been stabbed 17 times, and he had almost been beheaded. The APCLC alleged that the police tampered with the crime scene to get rid of incriminating evidence. Following the killing of Purushottam, four men were arrested on charges of murder. They are reported to be ex-members of an armed group. Human rights activists claim that they had been operating with the tacit and sometimes active support of police and were regularly seen in the company of armed police in plain clothes. In 2002, all four men were acquitted. In August 2016, the main suspect was killed in an encounter with the police near Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.
Purushottam had frequently received threats from contract killers hired by the police, warning him to stop his human rights work. In May 1997, Purushottam was attacked and left for dead. His wife, Jyothi Purushottam, said that the attackers had cut open his head with a sword. The attack took place in front of a police station. Mr Purushottam submitted a statement that he believed the attackers to be police in plain clothes. A few days after the incident, the “Green Tigers”, claimed responsibility for the attack. Human rights activists in Andhra Pradesh believe the “Green Tigers” to be a vigilante group set up by the police. There was no effective investigation in the case. Jyothi Purushottam said that Purushottam had continued to receive threatening phone calls after the attack. She said, “Purushottam used to say that some women had called and said, “You’ve only had a snack. If you don’t stop now, you will get a full meal.”