All four accused in the rape and murder of the 27-year-old veterinarian in Hyderabad were killed in an encounter on Friday, Cyberabad Police Commissioner V C Sajjanar said.
The men had been taken to the spot where the woman’s charred body had been found, around 60 km from Hyderabad, to reconstruct the crime scene, police told The Indian Express.
This was reportedly at 3 am on Friday morning. Police claim one of the men signalled to the others, possibly indicating a plan to escape, NDTV reported.
An official told the Indian Express that the police had fired in self-defence when the men had tried to run towards a deserted pathway.
“They were killed in crossfire. They tried to snatch weapons from the guards but were shot dead,” deputy police commissioner Prakash Reddy told AFP.
An ambulance was called but the men were pronounced dead at the scene, he said.
Police Commissioner Sajjanar said, “Will the police just watch if the accused attack them?”
He told Express that the men were taken to the spot at night “to avoid any confrontation with public who are angry.”
Police told News18 that the men were rushed to a hospital but succumbed to injuries.
The woman’s father reacted to the news, saying he was grateful to the police and the government.
The woman’s sister hoped the encounter killing would scare others indulging in such crimes against women. “We are happy. We did not expect this (killing in encounter). We thought they would be hanged through courts,” she said.
“We thank everyone who stood by us. With this incident people should be scared to do such crimes (against women) she told reporters.
The four accused were under judicial custody and lodged in high-security cells in Cherlapally Central Prison.
On Wednesday, the Telangana government set up a special court for speedy trial of the case.
The case caught national attention when the woman’s charred body was found under a bridge in Hyderabad on November 28. The police later found that the accused had plotted to lure her after puncturing the tyre of her bike. The accused had raped and killed her and then set her body on fire.
NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma said it was unclear under what circumstances the accused had been killed.
“As a common citizen I am feeling happy that this was the end we all wanted for them. But this end was supposed to be through the legal system. It should have happened through proper channels,” she told ANI.
The woman’s family members had told National Commission for Women on November 30 that the Hyderabad Police played a “negative role” and “wasted precious time” which could have been used to save the life of the veterinarian.
The NCW, in its report, said prima facie it observed that police officials delayed taking action in this case. The commission had sent an inquiry committee to look into the case.
“The victim’s family was shunted between two police stations over the issue of jurisdiction,” the NCW said in the report.
“Police came into action only the next day though the victim’s family had reached out to them immediately after her cellphone was found switched off,” it said in the report.
The case sparked nationwide protests and was discussed in the Parliament as members called for stringent action against the perpetrators.
It also triggered a debate on death penalty for rapists after Rajya Sabha MP Jaya Bachchan called for a public lynching of the accused.