Accused shot dead in 'encounter'
Hyderabad/New Delhi: Four men accused of raping and murdering 25-year-old veterinarian last month in Hyderabad were shot dead by the police early on Friday morning in what the cops claim was an "encounter" that followed after the men tried to flee the spot.
The gruesome nature of the crime had prompted a wave of public vitriol across the country, with thousands taking to the streets in protest and calls from politicians and the public for the men to be lynched.
Earlier, all the four men (Mohammad Areef, Jollu Shiva, Jollu Naveen and Chintakunta Chennakeshavulu) were taken out of the Cherlapally Central Jail by a police team in a bus as the cops wanted to reconstruct events of last Wednesday when the four allegedly trapped, raped and killed the doctor.
For the reconstruction, the police followed the exact timeline of the crime as it took place last week. And so, first, the police took the four men to the Shamshabad toll plaza on the outskirts of Hyderabad. It was here that the four men allegedly spotted the Telangana veterinary doctor last week and made plans to rape her.
At the toll plaza, the police questioned the four men and matched their statements with what the investigation had uncovered.
According to the investigation, they spotted the woman park her scooter at the toll plaza last Wednesday night. The four, who were drinking, made plans to rape her and one of them then punctured her scooter's rear tyre. When she returned, one of the four approached her on the pretext of helping fix her scooter. Then, the four dragged her to some bushes where they gang-raped her, asphyxiated her until she died and then drove her body to an underpass where they set it alight.
On Thursday night with their investigation at the Shamshabad toll plaza done, the police team moved the four men to the culvert on the Hyderabad-Bengaluru highway under which the burnt remains were discovered last week.
It was here that things went awry, according to the police. At the culvert, the police claim, the men — who were apparently not handcuffed — tried to escape. Unverified reports say the men snatched one of the policemen's guns and fired upon the cops. The police also added that they were forced to open fire on the four. The men were found dead around 500 metres away from the site where the woman's body was found last week. Bodies of the four men were found 20-30 feet from each other.
The encounter lasted for 45 minutes from 5.45 am to 6.30 am, according to the police.
This incident has triggered a chorus of praise for what many saw as speedy justice but also raised concerns over extra-judicial executions.
The father and the sister of the veterinarian said they were very happy and thanked the Telangana government and police. Political leaders too stepped into the raging 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. BSP president Mayawati also praised the police for its strong action against the accused.
But there were others who expressed their consternation.
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.
BJP leader Maneka Gandhi slammed the police and said it set a "horrifying" precedent.
National Commission for Women chairperson Rekha Sharma said it always wanted speedy justice and death penalty through a legal channel for the accused.
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