All four accused in the November 27 rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad, an incident that sparked outrage across the nation and echoed the Delhi December 16, 2012 incident, were shot dead by Telangana police Friday morning. At a spot barely 500 m from a wall of the underpass at Chattanpally village on the Hyderabad-Bengaluru highway where stains from the charred remains of the woman were still visible.
The four men were gunned down in an exchange of fire with a 10-member armed police group, after two of the accused snatched pistols from the police party who had brought them to the scene of crime for collection of further evidence and reconstruction of scene, said Cyberabad Police Commissioner V C Sajjanar.
The Telangana High Court, taking cognizance of a plea seeking judicial intervention in the matter, has ordered that the bodies of all four accused be preserved until December 9 when it will hear the plea. The four men were arrested on November 29 for allegedly raping and killing the doctor by smothering her and later burning her body. They were in police custody.
The bodies of the four accused were found within a radius of 50 m. The prime accused, a 26-year-old lorry driver, wearing a yellow T-shirt, had a 9-mm Glock and a bullet-exit wound near his chest suggesting he was shot in the back. The other lorry driver, a 20-year-old, also had a pistol in his hand. However, his bullet injuries were not clearly visible. All four were found dead in a vacant plot with hardly anywhere to hide or shield themselves from firing.
There were questions regarding the exchange of fire. Denying knowledge of how many rounds were fired, the Commissioner maintained that only a detailed postmortem could establish that. Significantly, none of the four was handcuffed — the police explained it saying they were told to look for the victim’s belongings.
Sajjanar said that the exchange of fire in the dark lasted about 10 minutes. He said that the accused tried to “confuse” the police party regarding where they had buried the woman’s phone, power bank and wrist watch, which constitute “crucial” evidence. They are said to have also pelted stones, sticks and other material at the police, he said.
“Suddenly the main accused, started pelting stones at the police officers. Another accused joined him and then the remaining two picked up sticks and stones and threw at the police escort. Two of our policemen were injured. Arif and Chennakeshavulu also snatched two pistols in the melee and fired at the policemen. We gave them a chance to surrender but they fired and police retaliated. After the firing stopped we found that all four accused were dead,” Sajjanar said.
Asked how the accused got hold of the pistols, Sajjanar said that the weapons carried by the police personnel were unlocked because the “accused were considered dangerous and that is why they could open fire” at police.
Asked about injuries to police officials, Sajjanar said: “None of the policemen were injured. Sub inspectors I Venkatesh and Arvind Goud were injured in the head in stone-throwing by the accused.” He added that the policemen were not videotaping the reconstruction of the crime scene.
The family of the woman thanked the police and the government. “My daughter’s soul must be at peace now,” said her father. The woman’s mother said the law should be capable to execute rapists immediately. Her sister said that she wished that this encounter will scare potential criminals and prevent such crimes in the future.
Earlier, as day broke and the news spread, curious crowds started reaching the spot. By 9 am, a large number of vehicles were parked on either side of the highway. Police teams prevented the swelling crowd from stepping into the adjacent field where the bodies lay.
The crowd applauded the police department and the government for “quick delivery of justice”. From atop the bridge, they showered flower petals on the police vehicles. Men burst crackers, women distributed sweets waving the Tricolour. They shouted slogans of “Police zindabad,” and “Nyayam jargindi,” (justice is done).
Some policemen on crowd-control duty were carried on shoulders by men as part of the celebration. Flowers and prayers were offered by visitors at the spot the victim was found burnt. “We are very happy that justice has been delivered to the victim’s family without wasting much time. The four rapists have received what they deserved and police have done the right thing,” said 24-year-old Sreenivasulu.
“It is the duty of the police and state government to ensure that such crimes do not happen again in our society. Today’s incident will set a right precedent in that regard,” said Sumathi, a college student.
Sajjanar said that police is collecting information about unsolved cases of missing women, burnt unidentified bodies of women recovered and suspected rape and murder cases from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and other parts of Telangana..”We suspect that these four were habitual offenders and could have committed similar crimes in other states,” he said.
“Law has done its duty and that’s what I can say,” he said responding to criticism on the handling of the situation by the police. 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.
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