New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Friday took suo motu cognisance of the alleged ‘encounter’, based on media reports, of the four accused arrested by the police in the gang-rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad.
In a statement, the rights body said, “As per reports, all four accused were taken to the scene of the crime around 60 kms from Hyderabad for a re-construction as part of the investigation.”
The NHRC said that as per the police version, one of the accused signalled to the others to apparently escape and in the process they tried to snatch weapons from the police personnel. And, the police fired on them and they allegedly died in cross firing.
The rights body opined that this matter is required to be probed very carefully, and asked its Director General (Investigation) to immediately send a team for a fact finding mission into the matter. “The team of the Investigation Division of the Commission headed by an SSP, is expected to leave immediately and submit their report at the earliest,” said the NHRC.
It said that the incident indicates the police personnel were not properly alert and prepared for any untoward activity by the accused on the spot, which resulted in the death of all the four.
“The deceased had been arrested by the police during investigation and a judgement in the matter by the competent court was yet to be pronounced. If, the arrested persons were actually guilty, they were to be punished as per law pursuant to the directions of the competent court,” said NHRC.
The commission said there is a lack of “standard operating procedures” to immediately respond to panic situations by police authorities, and it has been insisting that all law enforcement agencies keep human rights in mind while dealing with persons arrested by them or being kept in their custody.
“The right to life and equality before law are the basic human rights recognised and granted by the Constitution of India,” added NHRC. IANS
Act of distraction: Rights activists
New Delhi: The police cannot act like a lynch mob under any circumstance, several rights activists said. The encounter of the accused in the ‘Disha’ case was an attempt by authorities to distract people from the government’s failures to safeguard women’s rights, the activists said.
According to Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, this was 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 described the incident as the admittance of utter incompetence and failure of criminality on the part of the entire political and police system and accused Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao of deflecting the “whole issue”. “We must also remember that these four men were suspects. We do not know if there was a shred of evidence proving their guilt, beyond the custodial confessions which police in India routinely obtain through torture. Torture does not reveal truth,” she said.
Krishnan said the police personnel responsible must be arrested and prosecuted, and must be asked to prove in court that all four men were killed in self defence. “This encounter has all the hallmarks of a custodial murder, dressed up to look like an encounter,” she said.
Annie Raja, general secretary of the National Federation of Indian Woman (NFIW), called for a high-level inquiry. “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,” she said.
Lawyer and rights activist Vrinda Grover termed the incident “absolutely unacceptable”. Asking people to say “no to trigger track injustice”, she said, “… 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 also asked for an independent judicial inquiry into the incident.
Human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi, founding member of ANHAD (Act Now for Harmony and Democracy), agreed that it might be an attempt by the government 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…,” she said.
Lalitha Kumaramangalam, former National Commission for Women chief, said the encounter could have been a “knee jerk” reaction to the widespread protest against the brutal rape. “It is wrong because then it will become lynch mob justice. Street justice should not be handed out. There is a system that should kick in,” she said. PTI
“Don’t doubt police version”
New Delhi: Several retired and serving police officers cautioned against doubting the police in the encounter killing of four accused in the gang rape and murder of a 25-year-old veterinarian in Hyderabad, but demanded an independent probe into the incident. Former Tihar Jail DG Vimla Mehra demanded that an inquiry be conducted to ascertain the reasons that led to the encounter. Alok Kumar, former joint commissioner of Delhi Police (Crime Branch), said whenever a judicial scrutiny happens, things will be cleared. “This is a situation that has happened. Two of the policemen also got injured and one of them has serious head injuries. The firing was in self-defence. We should accept things. Subsequently, there will be judicial vetting,” he said over the phone.
According to guidelines, the case has to be investigated by an agency other than the one that carried out the encounter, he said. “If there is any lacuna, it will come out. Why should we start doubting the police version right from day one?” he stressed. “Going by the police version, the accused had snatched the weapon, and had fired at police. If someone is firing with an intention to kill you, the situation is different,” he stressed. Former Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said encounters took place during his tenure as well and the one at Ansal Plaza, in which two suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba militants were gunned down inside the crowded mall, raised questions. “After every encounter, there are always questions and this (Hyderabad) was not an encounter with a terrorist or gangster. It was in a case which has been under public scrutiny. To investigate what actually happened and transpired, there is a judicial inquiry that has to be ordered. We have to wait for its findings to know whether the encounter was justified or not,” he said.
Ashok Chand, a former Delhi Police officer who solved the Parliament attack case in just 72 hours, said raising questions just for the sake of it is not right. “If the police version is correct and there has been an exchange of fire in which the accused persons have been killed, it is an act of self-defence. You disprove the police version and then raise questions. Raising questions just for the sake of raising questions is not right,” he said. Former Maharashtra Director General of Police D Sivanandhan said this kind of “shortcut” will not help in prevention of crime in the long run. The 1976-batch IPS officer, whose tenure in Mumbai in the 1990s saw several encounters of gangsters, said, “After the encounter, the police may get praise for a short period, but it is not good in the long run.” Sivanandhan, who headed the Mumbai Police after the 26/11 terror attack, also said it was better to take measures to prevent crime against women with the help of technology.
Former Mumbai Police commissioner Satyapal Singh, who is now the BJP MP from Baghpat, hailed the encounter. “I would like to congratulate Hyderabad Police for tackling the situation with great valour. It would have been a big stain on the uniform if the culprits would have managed to escape from custody. Jai Hind,” he said in a tweet.
Retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Prafulla Bhosale, one of the Mumbai Police officers who came to be known as “encounter specialists”, justified the killings, saying it was the “need of the situation”. “It is justified as the accused tried to snatch the weapons of policemen during the crime scene reconstruction,” he said. “Had the accused managed to flee, it would have been disgusting for the police and they would have been blamed for negligence,” he said.
Defending the killing, Bengaluru top cop Bhaskar Rao termed it as “correct and timely action” given the situation. “The action of Hyderabad/Cyberabad police was correct and timely, there can be no second opinion. If they (accused) had escaped from the custody, they (police) would have been under tremendous pressure.
Sanjeev Yadav, DCP, Special Cell, Delhi Police, who has been part of several encounters, including the one at Batla House, congratulated his counterparts on Twitter. “Congratulations to Hyderabad police.. #hyderabadpolice #hyderabadencounter”, he wrote on the site.