The death in police encounter of four men accused of raping and murdering a veterinarian in Hyderabad was welcomed by the woman’s father on Friday. “It has been 10 days to the day my daughter died,” he told ANI. “I express my gratitude towards the police and government for this. My daughter’s soul must be at peace now.”
The mother of the 2012 Delhi gangrape victim also praised the police for gunning down the accused, who allegedly tried to flee while being taken to the murder site near Shamshabad toll plaza to reconstruct the sequence of events. The police claimed the four – Mohammed, Jollu Shiva, Jollu Naveen and Chintakunta Chennakeshavulu – tried to snatch their weapon, and were killed in self-defence.
“I am extremely happy with this punishment,” she told ANI. “Police has done a great job and I demand that no action should be taken against the police personnel.” She appealed to the government and the judiciary to hang her daughter’s rapists at the earliest.
The family of the eight-year-old girl who was gangraped and killed in Kathua last year also expressed satisfaction. The child’s biological father told PTI that if these men had indulged in the heinous crime, “justice has been done with the victim and her family”. He said the accused deserved death for what they had done.
The man who had adopted the girl told the news agency, “I felt glad and relieved after coming to know about the killing of the four accused provided they are the real culprits...If they had done wrong, they deserved death.”
Local people near the encounter site praised the police, showering them with rose petals and shouted slogans of “DCP zindabad”, ACP zindabad”. The residents of the colony where the veterinarian used to stay celebrated the killings and offered sweets to police personnel and tied rakhis on their hands, ANI reported.
Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan, who had called for public lynching of rape accused, welcomed the action taken by the police. “Der aaye, durust aaye...der aaye, bahut der aaye [It is better late than never],” ANI quoted her as saying.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the happiness expressed by so many people was something to be worried about and indicated that people had lost faith in the criminal justice system. “Together all the governments will have to take action on how to strengthen criminal justice system,” ANI quoted him as saying.
Religious leader Ramdev said the police action was courageous. “I must say that justice has been delivered,” he told ANI. “Legal questions over it are a different matter, but I am sure people of the country are at peace now.” Ramdev suggested that rapists and terrorists should be killed on the spot by the police and the Army. They should be taken to court only in cases where there is some doubt, he added.
Bahujan Samaj Party President Mayawati praised the Telangana Police, and asked law enforcement agencies in Uttar Pradesh to take inspiration from them, PTI reported. “In UP, this is happening every day not just in one district but in every district,” she told reporters. “Be it young girls or aged women, nobody is being spared. There is jungle raj in Uttar Pradesh.”
National Commission for Women Chairperson Rekha Sharma also expressed happiness, but said the law should have been allowed to take its course. “As a common citizen I am feeling happy that this was the end we all wanted for them,” she told ANI. “But this end was supposed to be through the legal system. It should have happened through proper channels.” Sharma added that the police are the best judge of what happened.
‘Encounter killings are a blot to our system’
However, a number of people warned about the dangers of “extra-judicial killings”. Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said the police should not be condemned until details emerge, but added that extra-judicial killings were unacceptable “in a society of laws”.
Union minister Maneka Gandhi criticised the police and said a dangerous precedent had been set, ANI reported. “You can’t take law in your hands, they [accused] would have been hanged by court anyhow,” he added. “If you are going to shoot them before due process of law has been followed, then what’s the point of having courts, law and police?”
The state unit of the BJP asked the Telangana government and the police to address the media about the encounter, NDTV reported. “India is not a banana republic and is bound by legal and constitutional framework,” the party said. “Politics over crime cannot set a right precedence. As a responsible national party BJP will react only after official police statement.”
Congress leader Karti Chidambaram crimes should be dealt as per provisions of law. “While I hold no brief for the alleged perpetrators of this dastardly act, ‘encounter’ killings are a blot to our system,” he added. “While I understand the urge for instant justice, this is not the way.”
Lawyers Vrinda Grover and Karuna Nundy also raised questions about the killing of the accused.
Grover called for an independent judicial inquiry into the incident as per guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court. “So all that the state will do in the name of ensuring that women live as equal and free citizens is to add to its arsenal of unlimited arbitrary violence,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “No investigation, no prosecution, these killings distract the public and save the police and state from any accountability.”
Karuna Nundy said now “nobody will ever know if the four men killed by the police were innocent men, arrested fast to show action”. She said people exulting over the deaths was a worrying sign as people seem to have lost faith in the criminal justice system.
All India Progressive Women’s Association Secretary Kavita Krishnan said the encounter was a ploy to shut down demands for accountability, and justice and dignity for women, PTI reported. “Instead of being accountable to his job and answering our questions about his government’s failures to safeguard women’s rights, the Telangana CM and his police have acted as leaders of a lynch mob,” she added.
Human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi also said the police action might be an attempt to distract people. “They [BJP] believe in this kind of politics and they are adding to the violence to public discourse and forcing people to a situation where chaos prevails in society... because when people start asking for lynching on the streets and killing people with stones or killing them in fake encounters, it is a very serious situation in society and it has to be strongly condemned,” she told PTI.