Politicians divided over Hyderabad encounter

NEW DELHI: All four accused in the rape-and-murder of a 25-year-old woman veterinarian last month were killed by police on Friday morning, triggering a chorus of praise for what many saw as speedy justice but also raising concerns over extra-judicial executions.

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New Delhi, December 6

All four accused in the rape-and-murder of a 25-year-old woman veterinarian last month were killed by police on Friday morning, triggering a chorus of praise for what many saw as speedy justice but also raising concerns over extra-judicial executions.

Many political leaders stepped into the growing debate.                                 

Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan, who had recently advocated lynching of rapists in Parliament, said the killing of the four men was “long due”.

“Better late than never,” she said.

In a tweet, Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha said: “Congratulations on becoming a banana republic!”

BSP president Mayawati also praised the police for its strong action against the accused.

In Parliament, a remark by Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury that “Sita is being burnt” while plans are afoot to build a Ram temple created an uproar in the House, with union minister Smriti Irani hitting back at the opposition for politicising and communalising the issue.

Congress leader and Lok Sabha member Shashi Tharoor said extrajudicial killings were not acceptable.

“We need to know more... Until details emerge we should not rush to condemn. But extrajudicial killings are otherwise unacceptable in a society of laws,” he tweeted.                 

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said people are “happy” over what has happened in Hyderabad but have lost faith in the criminal justice system.

Kejriwal was reacting to the encounter killings of four persons accused of raping and killing a veterinarian in Hyderabad.

“The governments and agencies need to sit together and discuss ways to strengthen the criminal justice system,” he said.

BJP leader Maneka Gandhi slammed the police and said it set a “horrifying” precedent.

“Jo bhi hua hai bohot bhayanak hua hai is desh ke liye (What happened was horrifying for the country)... You cannot kill people because you want to. You cannot take law in your hands, they (accused) would have been hanged by court anyhow,” the former minister said.

Rekha Sharma, National Commission for Women chief, said she was happy the perpetrators were dead, but justice should have been done through proper legal channels.

Several rights activists spoke out to express their outrage and said the police cannot act like a lynch mob under any circumstance.

The encounter is an attempt by authorities to distract people from the government’s failures to safeguard women’s rights, the activists said, calling for an exhaustive inquiry.

According to Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, the killing of the four men is not justice but a “ploy” to shut down demands for accountability from the police, judiciary, governments, and justice and dignity for women.

She described the incident as the admittance of utter incompetence and failure of criminality on the part of the entire political and police system and accused Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao of deflecting the “whole issue”.

Krishnan said the police personnel responsible must be arrested and prosecuted, and must be asked to prove in court that all four men were killed.

“It was an attempt to divert attention from the issue. A high level inquiry in the matter is needed,” said Annie Raja, general secretary of the National Federation of Indian Woman (NFIW).

Veteran leader and National Vice-President of BJP Uma Bharti took to Twitter to express her sentiments on the incident.

In a series of tweets, she hailed Telangana police for quick action.

"This is the biggest incident in the 19th year of this century that guarantees women safety. All police officials, who have done this deserve respect. It will develop a sense of security in women in other states of the country...Jai (salute) Telangana police."

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan said, "The whole country is relieved by this encounter. They have been punished for what they did. Justice has been delivered. I can imagine how painful it would have been for that daughter who was brutally raped first and then burnt alive."

Commenting on the lengthy legal process he said, "We made a provision for capital punishment in such matters but no culprit has been hanged till date due to long legal procedures of lower courts, high courts, Supreme Court, and mercy petitions. Justice delayed is justice denied."

Shiromani Akali Dal leader leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa said "On the behalf of every daughter and father of this country I want to thank Hyderabad police for their action in Hyderabad rape and murder case of the doctor. Such culprits should be handed over to people for quick justice. I would also request the courts not to grant bail in such crimes because it is not a bail, it is certificate for them to commit such a crime again."

Meenakshi Lekhi (BJP) said police had to open fire when the accused tried to escape.

“Police ko hatiyar sajane ke liye nahin diye gaye” (Police have not been given weapons for keeping as show piece), she said.

Haryana Home Minister also commented on the issue.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen Chief Asaduddin Owaisi, when asked about the supposed encounter, said he was against such encounters.

“I am against encounters. Even the National Human Rights Commission has taken cognizance of the encounter,” Owaisi, also a Member of Parliament from Hyderabad, told reporters outside Parliament.

— Agencies 

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