Hyderabad: In a stunning twist to a crime that horrified the nation, all four men accused in the gang-rape and murder of a young veterinarian in Telangana were shot dead in the early hours of Friday by the police, who claim they were trying to escape during investigations at the same spot where the woman’s body was found. The young woman’s rape and murder last week, revealed when her badly burnt body was found near Hyderabad, had outraged the nation.
The four men, Mohammed Arif (26), Jollu Shiva (20), Jollu Naveen (20) and Chintakunta Chennakeshavulu (20), had been taken to the scene of the crime at 3 am for a reconstruction as part of investigations, the police said. They were at the spot where the charred body of the woman was found, around 60 km from Hyderabad, when, the police claim, one of the men signaled to the others, possibly to escape.
The police claim that the accused tried to snatch weapons from them and attacked them.
The police fired at the men.
“They were killed in crossfire. They tried to snatch weapons from the guards but were shot dead,” senior police officer Prakash Reddy said.
“We called an ambulance but they died before any medical help could reach them.”
The four, arrested a day after the crime, had been in custody of the police since Wednesday.
On November 27, the men, all truck-drivers and cleaners, saw the 27-year-old woman park her scooter near a toll-booth on a busy highway. She left for a dermatology appointment. They allegedly deflated her scooter tyre and waited for her. When she returned, they took her to a truck yard with the promise of fixing her scooter, gang-raped her, strangled her and burnt her body to destroy evidence, according to the police.
Amid spiraling outrage, the Telangana Law Department had approved a fast-track court to try the case.
The woman’s father told news agency ANI: “It has been 10 days to the day my daughter died. I express my gratitude towards the police and the government for this. My daughter’s soul must be at peace now.”
The controversial shooting has sharply divided opinion in a story that has been passionately debated for days.
In parliament, several MPs had called for quick trial and hanging of the accused. In some emotional statements, MPs called for lynching of the men for the horrific crime.
A former police officer controversially suggested public anger had left the police with little choice. “Although it’s totally unprofessional, but I think this was what was expected. I knew something like this was going to happen,” said Swaranjit Sen, a former Director General of Police, Andhra Pradesh.
Activist Vrinda Grover denounced the police shooting and said an FIR must be filed. “This is absolutely unacceptable. We don’t want this form of trigger happy justice. There must be an independent judicial enquiry into this ‘encounter’. There must be accountability of the police,” said Ms Grover.