Hyderabad vet rape-murder case: Encounter killings of 4 accused raise more questions than answers; police should provide full account of deaths

  • The very move to take the accused to the crime scene to reconstruct the crime at that time of the night appears highly irregular.

  • The police does not have any satisfactory answer as yet to questions like 'How did the accused try to flee when such precautions were in place?'

  • There is also no explanation as to how and why the police needed to open fire when the accused were unarmed

The Hyderabad Police's claim of an unforeseen encounter killing of the four accused in the case of the rape and murder of a 26-year-old veterinarian barely stands the test of scrutiny, even though the cops seem to have the overwhelming backing of the general public for the extrajudicial killings.

Just a day after orders were issued by the Law Department of Telangana designating the first additional district and sessions judge in Mahbubnagar as a special court for the speedy trial of the gruesome crime, the police claimed to have shot dead the accused when they tried to escape.

The police version, however, raises more questions than it answers. Too many coincidences around the encounter lend little credence to the cops' story. According to them, the firing took place between 3.30 am and 5 am near the Chatanpalli underpass, where the charred body of the vet was found.

The very move to take the accused to the crime scene to reconstruct the crime at that time of the night appears highly irregular. The police claimed that since the public has been baying for the blood of the accused, they had to be taken under the cover of darkness. Even if that was true, it is difficult to believe that the police did not bother to have a tight security ring around the accused in such a high-profile case.
 
In fact, knowing full well that the accused might be lynched if there was any lapse in security, the police had provided heightened security at the Cherlapally Central Jail, where the four accused were lodged. Additional police personnel were deployed and orders banning the assembly of people near the jail premises were also issued. Sources say that the Shadnagar Police — under the purview of the Cyberabad Commissionerate's jurisdiction — took the four accused into custody on Thursday night following a court order.
 
The young veterinarian was raped near the toll plaza in Shamshabad but was later burnt alive near Shadnagar on National Highway 44. A dozen policemen from the Shadnagar Police Station, located around 50 kilometres from Hyderabad, reportedly brought the four accused, Mohammad Arif (26), Jollu Naveen (20), Jollu Shiva (20) and Ch Chennakeshavulu (20) to the crime scene as part of the investigation. The accused were taken to the spot near Chatanpalli village, where the victim was torched to death.
 
The police said that the accused tried to flee into the nearby fields and were shot dead in the ensuing encounter. The police does not have any satisfactory answer as yet to questions like 'How did the accused try to flee when such precautions were in place?'. The accused did not have any prior criminal history which meant that they could not have planned so easily for an escape. There is also no explanation as to how and why the police needed to open fire when the accused were unarmed. The police does not seem to feel the need to provide a detailed account of the circumstances leading to the encounter, considering the act a fait accompli.
 
A picture of the encounter scene on social media showed three of the accused lying on the ground in close proximity. The police is yet to make an official announcement on how the encounter took place.  Retired cops say that the police does not take such decisions without the knowledge of the political leadership.

The latest encounter has all the hallmarks of the one that occurred several years ago in Warangal. It was again a coincidence that when the Warangal encounter took place under similar circumstances, the present Cyberabad commissioner of police VC Sajjanar was superintendent of police in Warangal district.

In an eerily similar incident, three youths who were accused of throwing acid on two girls in December 2008, were gunned down by the police, while they were being taken to the crime scene for a reconstruction of the crime. The police then claimed that the trio had attacked them in a bid to flee. The YS Rajasekhara Reddy government then received widespread support for the killings.

The public support for the police encounter in the present case has also been instant and euphoric. At the site of the incident where the four youth were encountered, people gathered in large numbers and raised slogans praising the police as well as the Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao. Support for the extrajudicial killings poured in from across the country via social media.

There seems to be some kind of unanimity among the majority of the people that such summary executions are the only remedy given our broken legal and judicial system. However, human rights activists pointed out that in the past such encounters took place especially when the accused, as in this case, hail from lower classes and poor family backgrounds.

One of the accused in the present case was a lorry driver, the rest were lorry cleaners.

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Updated Date: Dec 06, 2019 11:15:57 IST