The killing of the four men accused of the rape and murder of a 26-year-old woman in Telangana last week will be probed by an eight-member Special Investigation Team (SIT), the state government said today. On Friday the men were shot and killed by police officers who claimed they had snatched their weapons and opened fire in an escape attempt. The cops had taken the accused to the scene of the crime, located around 45 kilometres from state capital Hyderabad, to carry out a reconstruction of events.
The SIT, headed by Rachakonda Commissioner Mahesh Bhagwat, will inquire into the deaths of the accused, collect and preserve evidence, identify witnesses and record statements, including those of police personnel involved.
The team will take over investigation into the deaths of the accused, and all other related cases, with immediate effect. The report is to be submitted before a competent court of law.
The Telangana High Court postponed a 2.30 pm hearing alleging the killing of the accused was a fake encounter; the court had ordered the bodies to be preserved till 8 pm. The petition will now be heard on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court will hold hearings on Wednesday - petitions have asked for an independent probe into the incident.
The four accused - Mohammed Arif (26), Jollu Shiva (20), Jollu Naveen (20) and Chintakunta Chennakeshavulu (20) - had been taken to where the burnt body of the young woman was found. Once there, the police claim, the accused began attacking the cops with sticks, stones and sharp objects and snatched their weapons.
"All four accused got together and started attacking the police party. Officers maintained restraint and asked them to surrender but without listening to us they kept firing. Our officers retaliated," VC Sajjanar, Police Chief (Cyberabad), told reporters.
Moments later, four bodies lay scattered on the ground. Two of them held guns - Mohammed Arif and Chennakeshavulu.
Two members of the 10-member police team suffered head injuries (not bullet wounds).
"The law has done its duty. That's all I can say," he said, responding to skepticism. The four, he added, had confessed and were hardcore criminals. "Scientific evidence" proved their role, the police chief said.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has also ordered a probe; a seven-member team has begun its independent inquiry.