Indian police kill four men suspected of rape, murder, drawing applause and concern

Indian police kill four men suspected of rape, murder, drawing applause and concern

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HYDERABAD, India – Indian police shot dead four men on Friday who were suspected of raping and killing a 27-year-old veterinarian near Hyderabad city, an action applauded by her family and many citizens outraged over sexual violence against women.
However, some rights groups and politicians criticized the killings, saying they were concerned the judicial process had been sidestepped.
The men had been in police custody and were shot dead near the scene of last week’s crime after they snatched weapons from two of the 10 policemen accompanying them, said police commissioner V.C. Sajjanar.
Thousands of Indians have protested in several cities over the past week following the veterinarian’s death, the latest in a series of horrific cases of sexual assault in the country.
The woman had left home for an appointment on her motor-scooter and later called her sister to say she had a flat tire. She said a truck driver had offered to help and that she was waiting near a toll plaza.
Police said she was abducted, raped and asphyxiated and her body was then set alight on the outskirts of Hyderabad. Four men were arrested.
Sajjanar, the police officer, said the men – two truck drivers and two truck cleaners, aged between 20 and 26 years – had been taken to the spot to help recover the victim’s mobile phone and other personal belongings on Friday morning.
“As the party approached this area today (during the) early hours, all the four accused got together. They started attacking the police party with stones, sticks and other materials,” he told reporters near the site of the shootings.
The men, who were not handcuffed, then snatched weapons away from the police and started firing at them, but were killed after the police retaliated. He did not say how the accused were able to overpower their escorts.
“Law has done its duty, that’s all I can say,” Sajjanar said.
The National Human Rights Commission, a government-funded watchdog, said it had ordered an investigation. “Death of four persons in alleged encounter with the police personnel when they were in their custody, is a matter of concern for the Commission,” it said in a statement.
Indian police have frequently been accused of extra-judicial killings, called “encounters”, especially in gangland wars in Mumbai and insurrections in the state of Punjab and in disputed Kashmir. Police officers involved in such killings were called “encounter specialists” and were the subject of several movies.

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