Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service
Hyderabad, December 6
All four suspects in the gang-rape and murder of a veterinarian in Telangana have been killed in an encounter with the police.
The police said the four suspects, aged between 20 and 24, had been taken to the spot of the crime for recreation of the crime scene when they tried to escape and were shot.
Locals had on Thursday demolished the wall behind which the crime was committed.
Telangana Police had secured the suspects' remand on Thursday for a week on the ground that they needed to reconstruct the crime scene.
Keeping in view the public outrage, the suspects were earlier kept in a local jail so that people did not lynch them.
Cyberabad Police Commissioner VC Sajjanar said at a press conference later in the evening that his men resorted to “retaliatory” firing after two of the accused opened fire at police after "snatching" weapons from them.
He said one of the accused, Mohammed Arif, was the first to open fire, even as the 10-member police team that took them to the crime scene were attacked with stones and sticks.
The police returned fire after initial “restraint” and asking the accused to surrender, he said.
The snatched weapons were in “unlocked” position, he added.
The accused were not handcuffed when the firing took place and the incident happened between 5.45 am and 6.15 am this morning, he said.
A police sub-inspector and a constable suffered head injuries and were undergoing treatment, he said.
“Even though our officers maintained restraint and asked them to surrender, without listening to us, they continued to fire and attack...our people started retaliation. And in that retaliation four accused got killed,” he added.
The encounter took place on NH 44, very close to the place where the four men raped the 26-year-old veterinary doctor.
Two of the four worked as truck drivers and two were cleaners. All were in their twenties.
The vet was brutally gang-raped and killed by the four before they burnt her body in the Shamshabad area, close to Hyderabad airport on November 27.
The four were in judicial custody at Cherlapally Central Jail in Hyderabad and were handed over in police remand last evening.
The four accused, Mohammed Ali alias Arif, J Naveen, J Shiva and Chennakeshavulu, were kept in separate high-security cells, meant to house those accused in terror cases, before being handed over to the police.
It has been learnt that the National Human Rights Commission will conduct a spot inquiry into the deaths.
'Law has done its duty'
When he was asked to respond to the growing criticism the force was facing over the incident, the Cyberabad Police Commissioner said: “I can only say that law has done its duty”.
When asked about NHRC taking cognizance of the incident, he said: “We will answer to whoever takes cognizance, the state government, NHRC, to all concerned (sic)”.
Asked why the four men were taken to the crime scene in the early hours, the Commissioner said the accused were facing lot of threat from an angry public and hence brought at that time of the day.
The bodies of the four with one seen holding a pistol in a hand lay in the spot barely a few hundred metres away from the crime scene.
Surrounded by paddy and tomato fields some distance away on one side and the Hyderabad-Bengaluru national highway on the other, the stretch of uncultivated land where the bodies lay for legal formalities was swarmed by a battery of mediapersons and curious onlookers.
A medical team reached the spot and a doctor told reporters post-mortem would be conducted in nearby Mahabubnagar district.
The families of the four accused were shell shocked on hearing about the death of their wards with a grieving father asking whether his son deserved such a treatment.
News of the ‘encounter’ killing led to celebrations in some quarters and concern in others.
‘Preserve the bodies’
Hours after the “encounter”, the Telangana High Court asked state government to preserve the bodies until till 8:00 pm on December 9.
The high court’s order came over a representation that the Chief Justice’s office received. The representation claimed that the incident was an extra judicial killing, and asked for the court’s intervention.
The high court said that a video of the autopsy should be handed over to the Principal District Judge, Mahabubnagar, in the form of a Compact Disc or in a pen drive.
The court said that the Principal District Judge, Mahabubnagar, must receive the CD or pen drive to hand it over to the high court by Saturday evening.
“We further direct that the dead bodies of the four deceased/accused/suspects who were killed in the encounter be preserved by the State till 8:00 PM on December 9,” the court’s Division Bench said.
'We are very happy'
The father and the sister of the woman veterinarian said they were very happy and thanked the Telangana government and police.
“We watched on TV that they were killed in an encounter. We are very happy. Even people are happy. I thank the Telangana government and police for the encounter. I thank everyone who stood by us,” the father told the media.
The young woman’s sister hoped the killings would be a deterrent for others.
“With this incident people should be scared to commit such crimes (against women),” she said. With PTI
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