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Tuesday 21, January 2020
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Hyderabad encounter

AMID the nationwide outrage over the gruesome gang-rape and murder of a young veterinarian in Hyderabad, the Telangana police have shot dead all four suspects in an alleged encounter.

AMID the nationwide outrage over the gruesome gang-rape and murder of a young veterinarian in Hyderabad, the Telangana police have shot dead all four suspects in an alleged encounter. Cops claim that they acted in self-defence as the suspects snatched their weapons and tried to escape. Still, doubts are being raised about whether the encounter was genuine or stage-managed. Human rights and women’s rights groups are casting aspersions on the police as well as the state government, accusing them of employing diversionary tactics to cover up their failure to ensure women’s safety. Considering the mysterious circumstances under which the killings took place, a free and fair inquiry should be carried out at the earliest to get to the bottom of the matter.

This gruesome instance of ‘instant justice’ has received widespread public support, with the family of 2012 Delhi rape-murder victim endorsing the police action and urging the authorities not to punish the cops involved in the encounter. The popular sentiment, however, should not be allowed to override the rule of law. The wheels of justice turn very slowly, as Nirbhaya’s parents would aver, but the delay cannot be a ground to justify extra-judicial killings. Only a court could have decided whether all four suspects were guilty. The possibility that they had other accomplices also can’t be ruled out. The killings, which have thrown up more questions than answers, reek of a conspiracy to give a hasty burial to a case that has shown the law-enforcement agencies in a poor light.

Police personnel are duty-bound to uphold the law, no matter how grave the provocation. Cops should be brought to book if they bypass the due process and act like bloodthirsty lynch mobsters. Rooting for them or letting them off for having killed people who ‘deserved’ to die will set a wrong precedent that has no place in a civilised society. All hell will break loose if such a free-for-all is legitimised. Instead, the focus should be on strengthening the criminal justice system so that the fear of the law works as a potent deterrent.

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