You can’t take law in your hands: BJP leader Maneka Gandhi lambasts Telangana Police over alleged rapist encounter

BJP leader Maneka Gandhi on Friday slammed the police for the killing of four men accused in the Telangana gangrape-murder case and said it set a “horrifying” precedent for the country.

“Jo bhi hua hai bohot bhayanak hua hai is desh ke liye (What happened was horrifying for the country)… You cannot kill people because you want to. You cannot take law in your hands, they (accused) would have been hanged by court anyhow,” the former union women and child development minister told reporters in Parliament complex.

All four accused in the rape-and-murder of a 26-year-old woman veterinarian last month were killed by police on Friday morning, triggering a chorus of praise for what many saw as speedy justice but also raising concerns over extra-judicial executions.

The incident took place around 6.30 am when the accused, lorry workers aged between 20 and 24, were taken to the scene of the crime near Hyderabad for a reconstruction of events as part of the investigation, a senior police official said.

“They (accused) snatched weapons from police and fired on police and tried to escape… police fired in retaliation in which the four accused died,” a senior police official told PTI.

Two policemen were also injured, he said.

The four men were arrested on November 29 for allegedly raping and killing the woman by smothering her and later burning her body, an incident that led to widespread outrage and recalled the horrors of the December 16, 2012 gangrape and murder of a physiotherapy intern in Delhi.

They were remanded to seven days’ judicial custody.

News of the ‘encounter’ killing led to celebrations in some quarters and concern in others.

The father and the sister of the woman veterinarian said they were very happy and thanked the Telangana government and police.

“We watched on TV that they were killed in an encounter. We are very happy. Even people are happy. I thank the Telangana government and police for the encounter. I thank everyone who stood by us,” the father told the media.

The young woman’s sister hoped the killings would be a deterrent for others.

“With this incident people should be scared to commit such crimes (against women),” she said.

While the woman veterinarian has come to be known as “Disha”, direction, the Delhi girl was dubbed “Nirbhaya”, the fearless one.

Seven years after their daughter was gangraped — she died in a Singapore hospital a fortnight later — Nirbhaya’s parents also expressed satisfaction and the hope that their daughter’s culprits would be hanged soon and justice would be theirs.

Nirbhaya’s mother appealed to authorities to not punish the policemen involved in the encounter.

“The family of the Hyderabad doctor will not have to wait for justice for seven years like us. Police did the right thing,” her father told journalists.

There were celebratory scenes at the ‘encounter’ site as well with scores of people gathering to congratulate the police and shouting slogans such as “Telangana Police zindabad” . Some women were seen distributing sweets to police personnel.

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