Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Sunday assured people that a fast-track court would hear the case of alleged gang rape, and murder of a 27-year-old Hyderabad veterinarian, PTI reported.

Speaking for the first time about the incident, Rao said the trial would be expedited and those guilty would be given tough punishment. He said it was a “ghastly” case, and expressed anguish. “The government is ready to extend all necessary help to the family of the woman veterinarian, whose killing has triggered an outrage,” the chief minister said in a statement.

His son and state Information Technology Minister KT Rama Rao urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to amend laws to ensure capital punishment for rapists without any delay.

“Amend the Indian Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure so anyone who commits such a heinous act of violence on our women and children are given capital punishment without delay,” he tweeted. “Time has come to amend archaic portions of our acts and law.”

“Let us act swiftly to save our nation from these beasts who seem not to fear law of the land,” the minister added.

Grisly crime

Earlier in the day, spontaneous protests were held in Hyderabad amid public pressure on the Telangana government to take strict action against the accused. Residents of the area where the woman stayed turned away political leaders and actors who wanted to meet the family.

The woman had left home around 5.50 pm on Wednesday to visit a dermatologist in Gachibowli. She parked her two-wheeler near Shamshabad toll plaza and took a shared cab from there around 6.15 pm. On her way home, the woman realised that the rear wheel of her vehicle was punctured. Around 9.15 pm, the four accused – identified as Jollu Shiva, Jollu Naveen, Mohammad Areef and Chintakunta Chennakesavulu – then approached her with offers to help.

According to the remand report accessed by NDTV, three of the accused forced her into a bush near the toll gate and switched off her phone. They reportedly forced whiskey down her mouth as she kept screaming for help. She lost consciousness while being assaulted, according to the police. The accused allegedly smothered the woman to death when she started coming back to her senses. The body was then wrapped in a blanket, loaded on a truck and taken 27 km away. The accused reportedly placed it under a bridge, doused it with petrol, and set it on fire around 2.30 am.

Before being attacked, the woman called her sister for help. The family approached the police around 10 pm. The family was reportedly sent from one police station to another. The police did not search areas where the vet was last seen, alleged her sister. Instead, they reportedly asked if the woman had a boyfriend and was in regular touch with men, and sought to know her phone habits. The family alleged that the police presumed that the woman had gone away with someone on her own. Three police officials have been suspended for delaying the registration of a first information report.

The accused were sent to judicial custody for 14 days on Saturday. The police are now thinking about filing a custody petition. “It [custodial interrogation] may be done in the jail itself,” an unidentified senior police official told PTI.

‘No sympathy, only action’

The incident has triggered widespread criticism of the law-and-order situation in the state. As public figures arrived at the colony in Shamshabad on Sunday, angry residents locked its gates and held up placards that read: “No media, no police, no outsiders”, and “no sympathy, only action, justice”.

A woman resident asked why Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had failed to ensure justice after the arrest of the accused. “Why is the same treatment not being meted out to them [accused] for what they have done to the girl?” she asked. Another protestor asked why Prime Minister Narendra Modi had not tweeted about the incident.

The residents asked former Communist Party of India (Marxist) MLA J Ranga Reddy and his party workers to go back. Reddy sat outside the colony’s gates for some time in solidarity with the family.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Mahila Morcha held a silent protest at Indira Park in Hyderabad and students took out a rally at Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in the city, Telangana Today reported.

In Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh, students organised a rally at BRTS road and similar protests were held in Visakhapatnam. Students of National Institute of Fashion Technology organised a candle march and submitted a memorandum asking for strict action against the accused.