NHRC begins 'fact-finding' probe into Telangana encounter, widow of 1 accused alleges ‘injustice'
Hyderabad, Dec 07: Beginning its 'fact-finding' probe, a seven-member NHRC team on Saturday visited the site where the four men arrested on charges of gangrape and murder of a veterinarian were shot dead in an alleged encounter, while two PILs were filed in the Supreme Court seeking investigation by an SIT into the killings and action against the police.
A day after the pre-dawn 'encounter', Telangana police said that they have registered a case in connection with the incident and the four accused killed by it in "retaliatory firing" have been booked for "attacking" the cops who had accompanied them.
Amid a raging debate over the police action, the widow of one of the accused squatted on a road along with some others at her village in Narayanpet district, alleging that injustice has been done to her.
"How many are there in jail for having made mistakes...they should also be shot dead.... We will not bury the bodies till then," said Renuka, the pregnant wife of Chennakeshavulu who was killed by the police in the alleged encounter on Friday.
The team from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), including a forensic medicine expert, reached Chattanpalli village, about 50 kms from here, and visited the spot where the charred remains of the woman were found beneath a culvert on November 28 as also also the encounter site nearby.
"They visited the scene of the crime and are in the process of investigation," DCP (Shamshabad Zone) N Prakash Reddy told reporters. Officials said the team examined the bodies of the accused kept at a mortuary at a government hospital at Mahabubnagar.
An expert who is part of the team that conducted the autopsy said the NHRC team checked whether the post-mortem was conducted as per protocol, among others. He said the post-mortem report would be prepared in two days.
Two petitions were filed on Saturday in the Supreme Court seeking an SIT probe into the killings and compensation for the families of the four men.
While the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by advocate M L Sharma said that the SIT probe should be monitored by former apex court judges, a separate petition filed by lawyers G S Mani and Pradeep Kumar Yadav said that independent investigation against concerned police officials should be conducted.
Sharma alleged that it was a case of "extra-judicial killings" and sought prosecution of policemen involved in the incident. The PIL, which may come up for hearing next week, also seeks action against Samajwadi Party MP and Bollywood actress Jaya Bachchan and Chairperson of Delhi Commission for Women Swati Maliwal for alleged "provocation" and "pressuring police for extrajudicial killing of arrested persons in police custody without trial."
On Friday, the Telangana High Court had asked the state government to preserve the bodies of four accused till 8.00 pm on December 9 after a representation received in the office of the Chief Justice, requesting judicial intervention into the incident, alleging it was an extra-judicial killing.
The High Court had also directed that the video of the post-mortem be handed over to its Registrar General. Meanwhile, police said that on Friday they had booked the four accused under IPC Section 307 (attempt to murder) and relevant sections of the Indian Arms Act.
A case was registered under CrPC Section 176 (when any person dies while in custody of police...) in connection with the encounter. Based on a complaint filed by the in-charge of police team that accompanied the four accused, the FIR was registered, a senior police official told PTI.
The Cyberabad Police had said its personnel had resorted to "retaliatory" firing after two of the accused opened fire at them by snatching their weapons besides attacking the latter with stones and sticks, resulting in injuries to two policemen.
Police had said they had taken the accused to the scene of crime to recover the victim's phone and for reconstruction of events.
For the second day, groups of people publicly raised slogans here hailing police and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. The father of the victim said the accused, who behaved in a way worse than demons with his daughter, deserved to be punished the way police acted.
He again thanked police and the chief minister for the police action. Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader M Bhatti Vikramarka led a delegation of party leaders to Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan on Saturday and complained about the police allegedly not accepting the complaint from the victim's family members when she went missing, citing jurisdiction.
"The situation in the state is such that police don't accept cases unless those belonging to (ruling) TRS party or its functionaries recommend it over phone," Vikramarka alleged.
"Because of this, Telangana is losing in a big way. This we have brought to her (Governor) notice as an example," he told reporters.
He demanded that liquor sale be done in a regulated manner and not as a source of revenue for the government. The four accused, all lorry workers aged between 20 and 26, were arrested on November 29.
There has been an intense demand for speedy punishment to rape convicts after the brutal gangrape-murder case came to light.
However, political leaders and other prominent people have been speaking in different voices over the police action as some said it will send a stern message to culprits, while others questioned the police claim.
Many also said that the incident reflected the failure of the criminal justice system which is plagued by delays. Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Saturday hit out at those hailing the Telangana encounter, saying the "savage Taliban-style justice" will make courts irrelevant.
"To the cheerleaders of: Telangana Encounter. Blood lust vs due process. The savage Taliban-style justice vs the civilised...will make courts irrelevant," Sibal said in a tweet.
The state government has ordered setting up of a special court (fast track) to expedite the trial.
Speaking at an event in Jodhpur, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad urged the Chief Justice of India and other senior judges to ensure that there is a mechanism to monitor quick disposal of rape cases, saying that the women of the country are under pain and distress and crying for justice.
"I would urge the CJI and other senior judge that now there must be a mechanism to monitor the disposal of these cases so that India's stature as a proud country governed by rule of law must be restored at the earliest," Prasad said, and assured government funding for it.
"The women of the country are under pain and distress. They are crying for justice," he said. The minister said there are 704 fast-track courts for heinous offences and others and the government is in the process of setting up 1,123 dedicated courts for POCSO and rape offences.
"In the law relating to women violence, we have already laid down capital punishment and other severe punishment including completion of trial in two months time," he added.