Hyderabad (India): Hundreds of people gather near the site where four men suspected of raping and killing a woman were shot dead by the police in Shadnagar, about 50 kilometres from here, on Friday.—AP
Hyderabad (India): Hundreds of people gather near the site where four men suspected of raping and killing a woman were shot dead by the police in Shadnagar, about 50 kilometres from here, on Friday.—AP

NEW DELHI: Following demands for the lynching of four suspects in the rape and murder of a veterinary doctor in Hyderabad last week, police shot dead all four men accused in the crime on Friday morning.

Police said the killing of the men in their 20s was prompted by their attempt to escape after snatching guns from the policemen and firing at them.

The four men were apparently driven to the site of the crime early in the morning to pick up material evidence when the “encounter” occurred. The place was where the 27-year-old woman was burnt after her rape and murder by the four men who reportedly approached her to help after stealthily puncturing her scooter tyre last week.

Video footage recorded after the “encounter” showed crowds celebrating the cops, carrying them on their shoulders, dancing and distributing sweets.

Those who had demanded the lynching of the four lorry cleaners included MPs, among them actress Jaya Bhaduri. She reportedly described the killings as “justified”, saying “better late than never”.

Former Congress minister Jyotiraditya Scindia also praised the shooting of the four men, his comments buoyed by widespread support from the media considered loyal to the government.

The Telangana High Court on Friday directed the state government to preserve the bodies of the four men till 8pm on Dec 9. The court gave the order on a representation received in the office of the chief justice, which requested judicial intervention into the incident, alleging it was an extrajudicial killing.

Earlier, the National Human Rights Commission ordered an inquiry into the incident. Women’s groups and human rights activists slammed the custodial killing, saying it would not stop or deter future crimes against women.

According to Kavita Kris­h­nan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, this is not justice but a “ploy” to shut down demands for accountability from the police, judiciary, governments and justice and dignity for women.

“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 said. She accused Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao of deflecting the “whole issue”. “We are asking tough questions to the police and to the government. In order to avoid answering these questions it is an attempt to say justice has been done,” she said.

Annie Raja, general secretary of the National Federa­tion of Indian Woman, called for a high-level inquiry. “It was an attempt to divert attention from the issue. A high-level inquiry in the matter is needed,” she said.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2019