Hyderabad Encounter: Vrinda Grover Slams, Nirbhaya’s Kin Lauds
All four people accused in the rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad were killed in an encounter by the Warangal police in the early hours of Friday, 6 December.
The brutal gang-rape and murder of the 27-year-old woman last Thursday had left the nation in a state of shock. The four accused were in judicial custody at Cherlapally Central Jail in Hyderabad.
As per sources, the four accused were shot dead on NH-44 near Hyderabad, the same highway where the charred body of 26-year-old Disha was found. The accused were allegedly taken to the crime scene for recreation of the scene at around 3 am. When the accused allegedly tried to escape, the police had to open fire.
This has triggered conversations across the country reassessing if death penalty is the right way to deal with sexual violence.
‘Glad Justice was Served’: Nirbhaya’s Parents
Badrinath Singh, the father of the victim in the 2012 gang-rape case, said the woman’s family has been spared the ordeal he and his wife have been put through in the past seven years. His wife, Asha Devi, said she was extremely happy with this punishment.
“Today the court, the government and the Delhi Police should see what example the Hyderabad police has set. It is my request to the judiciary and the Centre that Nirbhaya's accused should be hanged at the earliest and set an example before the society... the way they commit heinous crime, they will meet the same fate,” Nirbhaya's mother said.
She lauded the police for doing their job and demanded that no action should be taken against the police personnel.
Also Read : Justice done, says Hyderabad victim's family
Death Penalty Not An Answer to Rape: Advocate Grover
Meanwhile, advocate Vrinda Grover slammed the police saying what they have done is ‘absolutely unacceptable,’ and that an FIR should be registered against them. She also called for an independent judicial enquiry.
Swati Maliwal, Chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women, said she will sit on a hunger strike in protest. “I won't get up until I get assurance from Centre that rapists will be served death penalty within 6 months. Police accountability needs to be set,” she said.
Meanwhile, Rekha Sharma of the National Commission for Women said though as a common citizen, she is happy with the outcome, “this end was supposed to be through the legal system. It should have happened through proper channels.”
Advocate Karuna Nundy said this should serve as a wake up call to the government to appoint more judges and police, strengthen investigation so the right people are caught fast and bring in robust witness protection programmes.
She questioned why the police had to conduct an investigation at 3.30 am. “When they were sleeping during the golden hour of evidence, refusing to register an FIR, when the young vet was alive?” she had tweeted.
Women in Criminal Law Association, in their official statement, condemned the custodial encounter, stating that “the murder of people in so-called 'encounters' by the police and security forces does not give us a safer society.”
The association added, “As lawyers, we have experienced the failures of the criminal justice system in responding to rampant sexual violence. Equally, it is also clear that the absence of due process is disproportionately present against Dalits, Muslims and other marginalised communities. It is our belief and hope that a comprehensive change in societal attitudes about women along with tightening the bolts on the entire system, that is, from police investigations to the trial, will deliver justice and prevent such crimes from recurring.”
‘Just a Ploy to Shut down Demand for Accountability’
Several activists have raised alarm that the police cannot act like a lynch mob under any circumstance.
Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association, told PTI, that this encounter cannot be deemed as justice but just a ‘ploy’ to shut down the demand for accountability from the police, judiciary and governments.
She accused the 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 added.
Krishnan also said the police personnel responsible must be arrested and made to prove in court that all four men were killed.
Annie Raja, general secretary of the National Federation of Indian Woman (NFIW), called for a high-level inquiry, PTI reported. “Why in spite of having all legislations in place in the country are governments failing to implement it. Definitely it was a distraction. It was an attempt to divert attention from the issue. A high level inquiry is needed in the matter.”
“They (BJP) believe in this kind of politics and they are adding to the violence through 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.”Shabnam Hashmi, Human Rights Activist
‘Disturbing Precedent of Evading Legal System’: Amnesty India
“Extrajudicial killings are not a solution to preventing rape,” said Avinash Kumar, Executive Director, Amnesty International India.
“The reported delay in filing the First Information Report (FIR) by the Telangana Police in this case, coupled with the shoddy investigation and the general low conviction rate for those accused of rape raises deeply disturbing questions about the state of justice in India,” added Kumar.
Under international law, extrajudicial, arbitrary or summary executions and enforced disappearances are strictly forbidden.
Kumar further pointed out, “In a modern and rights-respecting society, using extrajudicial executions to offer justice to victims of rape is not only unconstitutional but circumvents the Indian legal system and sets a grossly wrong precedent. An independent investigation is essential.”
‘Trigger-Happy Solutions Can’t Resolve the Issues’
Journalists across the country have strongly condemned the action by the Telangana police. They said that an accused has to be put to trial and ‘trigger-happy solutions’ cannot resolve the issue of brutal crimes against women.
Deeptiman Tiwary, a journalist with The New Indian Express, tweeted, “What is more troubling is it comes from Telangana police--among the best police forces in India. Reflects poorly on KCR. The leadership could not handle the pressure of public outcry.”
Senior journalist Aneesha Mathur pointed out that, “Killed in an encounter is a lazy, easy way to shut down the case when you can't be bothered to investigate properly.” She urged for a systemic change.
Marya Shakil, political editor at CNN-News 18 tweeted that it is the ‘boys will be boys’ mentality that needs to change.
Senior journalist Barkha Dutt tweeted that the responses to this encounter shows “the utter lack of belief most Indians feel in a broken justice system.”
Senior journalist Dhanya Rajendran tweeted that most people are celebrating as “they have no faith in courts”.
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