Call for probe into police shooting
The NGO Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) on Saturday called on Telangana police and the state government to ensure an exhaustive, impartial and independent investigation into the police shooting of the four suspects in the Hyderabad gang rape and murder case.
The state government and the police are accountable for the deaths of the four suspects, the CHRI said.
The police commissioner of Cyberabad had told a news conference on Friday that the police had acted in self-defence after the suspects, accused of gang-raping a veterinarian and burning her on the outskirts of Hyderabad, snatched their weapons and opened fire. The police version, the CHRI said, failed to explain how the four unarmed suspects overpowered 10 armed police personnel.
“There must be prompt and independent investigations, particularly to examine the use of force by Telangana police. These must be initiated immediately so as not to lose valuable evidence, and conducted in a thorough manner that meets the ends of substantive justice,” said Sanjoy Hazarika, the director of the CHRI.
The CHRI on Saturday issued a statement titled: “Encounter needs robust investigation, police accountability and strict compliance with Supreme Court guidelines, legal procedures.”
The CHRI noted that the National Human Rights Commission had sent an inquiry team to Telangana and Telangana High Court had issued directions to preserve the bodies of the four deceased suspects till December 9, videograph the post-mortem and submit the recording to the Mahbubnagar district judge.
The CHRI said the onus was on the state government and the police to “facilitate an enabling environment that assures these multiple accountability processes can proceed freely with no hindrances or interference”.
The NGO urged Telangana police and the government to “demonstrate accountability” and ensure immediate registration of an FIR against the police personnel involved in the alleged encounter.
The CHRI said the probe must be conducted by a police team from outside the district, preferably by an SIT. It also sought an inquiry under Section 176 (1-A) of the Code of Criminal Procedure; and preservation of the bodies, the crime scene and forensic evidence. The section deals with custodial death.
The CHRI demanded that the names and duty records of all the police officers who were part of the encounter team be secured along with the seizure of relevant registers, weapons used and related evidence.
All wireless, vehicle log book records and call details of the police personnel involved in both planning and executing the events of Friday, when the alleged encounter took place, must be collated and examined, the CHRI said, adding that the post-mortem must be recorded.
It also demanded that none of the police personnel involved in the alleged encounter are promoted, given gallantry awards or posted to some other locations.
The CHRI pointed out that the guidelines of the Supreme Court in the PUCL vs. State of Maharashtra case require killings in encounters to be independently investigated.
NHRC guidelines require any death resulting from police action to be reported to it within 48 hours, followed by supplementary reports including the post-mortem, inquest, magisterial inquiry and forensic reports. The state government and the police “must strictly comply” with both sets of guidelines, the CHRI said.
The CHRI demanded that the police personnel be immediately suspended pending an investigation and arrested as soon as prima facie grounds are made out.
“It is of serious concern that policymakers and others are championing the killings and there is no mention of the strict accountability required for the causing of death. This denies institutional responsibility, and bodes ill for the rule of law,” said Devika Prasad, programme head, police reforms, of the CHRI.