On November 27, a horrific incident in which a 27-year-old veterinary doctor from Hyderabad was brutally gang-raped and burnt alive by four men left the entire country in shock. It prompted a nationwide outrage, with citizens not only demanding the worst kind of punishment for those who had committed the heinous crime, but also questioning why our country continues to remain so unsafe, especially for women. And while some ministers and lawmakers came up with their own unhelpful and pretty problematic solutions, a recent development has just changed everything.
Early this morning, the four accused—identified as 26-year-old Mohammed, and 20-year-olds Jollu Shiva, Jollu Naveen and Chintakunta Chennakeshavulu—were taken by the police to the site of the crime for a reconstruction of the events as part of the ongoing investigation. However, according to the police, they tried to flee from the crime scene, thus prompting an ugly shootout with the police that left all four of them dead.
India woke up to this news that has instantly left the country divided on whether what happened was justice served or justice denied. “It has been 10 days to the day my daughter died,” the girl’s father told ANI. “I express my gratitude towards the police and the government for this. My daughter's soul must be at peace now.” Her mother had a similar reaction and said she was “extremely happy” with this punishment and felt that it was only fitting since she had appealed for the culprits to be hung at the earliest.
Even as debates rage on our WhatsApp groups and on Twitter, an atmosphere of relief and victory appears to have taken over Telangana, with large groups gathering at the crime site and girls chanting together in buses, cheering the police and tying cops rakhis for making the streets a little safer by eliminating the culprits altogether. Many think of this celebration as a natural byproduct of a justice system that is flawed, slow and one people have lost confidence in.
However, many people are still worried that the killing of the suspects was entirely wrong, especially since they were yet to stand trial and thus escaped the judicial process. They are also concerned that celebrating violence in this way can only lead to further violence and in fact even normalise something essentially unconstitutional.
Still, others continue to defend the police actions by saying that because of the inherent flaws in our justice system, this was a quick way to ensure justice for the victim and to reduce the amount of suffering her parents would have been put through if they had to drag the whole trial through court.
Meanwhile, some are pointing out the eerie similarities between this case and the gruesome gang rape and murder of a woman on a New Delhi bus in 2012, in which the main accused hung himself and thus escaped trial. They are also pointing out that in past cases taken on by VC Sajjanar, the Superintendent of Police in charge of the Hyderabad rape-murder case, also ended up in another encounter that left the accused dead. However, Asha Devi, the mother of the girl who is now often referred to as Nirbhaya across India, congratulated the police for their actions after today’s unexpected development and said that this would serve as a reminder for perpetrators and potentially discourage them from committing such crimes. "At least one daughter has been served justice,” Devi told India Today. “I thank the police. I have been shouting for 7 years, punish the culprits even if it needs to be done by breaking laws and then see how society changes for good.”
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