A day after the burnt body of a 26-year-old veterinarian was found near Hyderabad, a Telangana Minister on Friday said that the incident could have been averted if she had called the police instead of her sister upon finding people around her behaving suspiciously.
"We are saddened by the incident, the police is alert and controlling crime. She was an educated woman, and yet she called her sister instead of 100. Had she called 100, she would have been saved. 100 is a friendship number, and we have to spread awareness on this among the people," Telangana Home Minister Mohd Mahmood Ali told news agency ANI on the sensitive issue.
Mr Ali subsequently clarified to NDTV that he had only meant that it was a people-friendly initiative and women should use it in such times. She is my daughter. I have lost a daughter today. I only meant that if the young woman had called 100, we may have had her with us today,'' he said.
The family also said they were sent from RGIA urban police station to the rural police station and back again to the urban police station as the policemen were confused about whose jursidiction the case would fall. If they had moved quickly to physically verify and search for her instead of checking CCTV footage, my daughter may have been saved,'' said the young woman's father to NDTV.
The family was also hurt that the police seemed to have concluded that since there was footage showing her park her 2-wheeler and none showing her return, she must have gone away with someone. I understand they have to question and investigate all angles. But they should not conclude based on their own bias and should trust what I was saying that she has no such friend with who she would go away,'' her sister told NDTV.
The 26-year-old veterinarian had gone missing on Wednesday night, while she was heading home from a hospital. Investigations revealed that on her way back, she stopped to pick up her 2-wheeler that she had parked in the evening near a Shamshabad toll booth. She had taken a cab to visit a dermatologist. Upon returning around 9 pm, she found her two-wheeler punctured.
The veterinarian had last called her sister around 9:15 pm on Wednesday. An audio recording of the call seemed to suggest that somebody had offered to get her flat tyre fixed, and that she was feeling scared because some truck drivers near her were behaving in a suspicious manner.
Telangana Director General of Police Mahendar Reddy called the murder "gruesome and atrocious", and promised to ensure that the culprits -- once caught -- are convicted expeditiously in a fast-track court. "Deeply pained and anguished. Telangana police will do everything possible to catch the offenders at the earliest and get them convicted through a fast-track court. Anyone, anytime, anywhere in distress, please dial 100," he said in a tweet.
Mr Reddy also said that women should not hesitate while contacting the police. "If you face any problem or suspect any danger commuting at odd hours, isolated places or if your vehicle breaks down! #JustLetUsKnow we are here just a click away," another tweet from the top police officer read.
The centre plans to issue an advisory to all states in the wake of the incident, asking them to take precautionary steps against anti-women crimes.