Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service
Hyderabad, December 9
The Telangana High Court has directed the state government not to dispose of the bodies of four gang-rape suspects who were killed in a controversial encounter until Friday.
The court was hearing two petitions that claim that the alleged encounter in which the four had been killed was staged.
All four people were suspects in the gang-rape and murder of a veterinarian on November 27. The state government claims that the four suspects had fired upon a police team that had taken them to reconstruct the scene of rape and murder on December 6, and that cops killed them in self-defence.
A Division Bench headed by Chief Justice RS Chauhan took up two petitions that wanted a thorough investigation into the alleged encounter killing.
The court asked the state government to prove that it had followed Supreme Court’s guidelines on encounters. Authorities have also been told to move the bodies from the Government Medical College at Mahabubnagar, where they are at the moment, to Hyderabad’s Gandhi Hospital because the first hospital did not have adequate facilities to house them for long.
The court then adjourned the case for the day after Advocate General BS Prasad said that the Supreme Court was also hearing a similar petition over the encounter.
The high court will now hear the case on Thursday.
The four suspects were shot dead at Chatanpally near Shadnagar, where they were taken in the early hours of December 6. The spot—which is some 60 km from Hyderabad city—was also the place where the burnt body of the 26-year-old veterinarian was found hours after her family found her missing on November 27.
Police claimed that the suspects had snatched some weapons and fired at the cops present, forcing the latter to shoot them dead. This version, however, has been contested by rights activists, who claim that it was likely an “extrajudicial killing”.
The petition before the high court bears signatures of more than a dozen organisations.
The National Human Rights Commission has sent a team to investigate the alleged encounter.
As pressure mounted, the state government announced it had set up a Special Investigation Team under Rachakonda Police Commissioner Mahesh M. Bhagwath to investigate the incident.
However, even while questions remain over the alleged encounter killings, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao has found support in political circles—the latest one being his Andhra Pradesh counterpart YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.
"As a father of two daughters, the incident left me deeply agonized. As a father, how should I react to such incidents? What sort of punishment would give a parent relief? We should think about it,” Reddy said. "The incident happened. The media showed the wrong committed. Later the Telangana government reacted. Hats off to KCR and Telangana police officers".
He also announced that his government would introduce a Bill in the ongoing session of the Legislature to enact a strong law for ensure speedy trial in cases involving crimes against women.
"We should bring in such strong laws to hand out acceptable punishment to those guilty of crimes against women. The punishment should happen within three weeks of the crime," he said.
Meanwhile, also on Monday, the Supreme Court on Monday agreed to take up two Public Interest Litigations for a probe into the alleged encounter.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said it would hear the PILs on Wednesday. The PILs ask for registration of an FIR and a court-monitored probe.
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