An ‘encounter’ that left a nation divided

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Police inspecting the site of encounter killing at an agriculture field at Shad Nagar

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NEW DELHI: On Friday, Twitter remained sharply divided over the “encounter” of those accused in the Hyderabad rape and murder case. Several hashtags around the encounter dominated online discourse, with #Encounter (222K) and #Hyderabadpolice (141K) being the top trends. Appreciation and criticism of Hyderabad police cut across political lines.

THOSE WHO PRAISED ‘ENCOUNTER’

POLITICIANS

Mayawati: The action that has been taken by the Hyderabad Police is praiseworthy. In UP, this is happening every day not just in one district but in every district. Be it young girls or aged women, nobody is being spared. There is jungle raj in UP.

Akhilesh Yadav: After all, those who run away from the law could not have run away from justice. It’s good someone has got justice from this, but the real happiness will be when such an effective preventive security system and protective social environment is created that such heinous crimes should never happen to any sisters and daughters.

Jaya Bachchan: “Der aaye, durust aaye (better late than never).

CELEBRITIES

Saina Nehwal: Great work #hyderabadpolice. We salute you.

PV Sindhu: Justice has been served! May (her) soul rest in peace.

Vivek Anand Oberoi: Same spot, same time frame, the predators became the prey! Now that’s true poetic justice! Maybe now all such monsters will finally feel fear and think a hundred times before even thinking of raping and murdering girls!

..AND THOSE WHO SPOKE AGAINST

POLITICIANS

Yogendra Yadav: No matter how heineous the crime, once we accept “encounter” as a solution, we give up the hope of rule of law. Today, it’s these “criminals”. Tomorrow, it can be you or me.

Milind Deora: Rape victims & their families deserve justice. Govts must do everything in their power to prevent atrocities against women. Courts must administer justice swiftly. India is not & must not become a mobocracy. Our constitution guarantees every Indian the right to a fair trial.

Sitaram Yechury: How we must secure the lives and dignity of each of our citizens, must be what civilised societies are about. Justice can never be retribution. Why is the tough law put in place on the safety of women after the 2012 Delhi crime not being implemented properly?

Amit Malviya: Encounter of four rapists by Telangana police may be an act of self defence but the jubilation surrounding it suggests collapse of our collective faith in the criminal justice system as much as politics of netas who normalise rapes by offering sewing machine and cash to rapists.

CELEBRITIES

Gutta Jwala: Will this stop the future rapists? And an important question. Will every rapist be treated the same way… irrespective of their social standing?

Vishal Dadlani: We live in a time where the absolute failure of the justice system is hailed as “justice”. Just so you know, cops killing people without a trial can land at your door, too, someday.

THOSE WHO TOOK THE MIDDLE GROUND

Rajeev Chandrasekhar: Its difficult for me to justify encounter killings — but pent up fury against legal system is hard to ignore. Victims —especially poor, women and children are being badly let down by policing and judicial system — held back by capacity and capability.

Shashi Tharoor: …We need to know more, for instance if the criminals were armed, the police may have been justified in opening fire preemptively. Until details emerge, we should not rush to condemn. But extra-judicial killings are otherwise unacceptable in a society of laws.

Arvind Kejriwal: There is satisfaction and happiness among people over the Hyderabad incident. It is a matter of concern that people’s trust in the law and order of the country is broken. We all have to strengthen our law and order system so that people start believing in it and every victim can get justice soon.

…AND SOME DID SOMERSAULTS

Babul Supriyo: #HumanRights are for human beings, not for ‘cannibals’ like the 4 killed in the encounter. Thank you hydcitypolice #justicedelivered.

CLARIFICATION: This is not a tweet written by me. My team did it (Avinash Pandey) & he has been immediately sacked. I strongly condemn this.

Abhishek Singhvi: (Tweet deleted later) Sometimes in spite of all the debates and #HumanRights logics, we shall understand the mood and sentiments of the people of the nation and stand with them. After all, democracy is all about ‘The People’. #Encounter.

LATER: In world’s largest democracy, there is nothing we cannot achieve through law. Nirbhaya case has had some delay but it has crossed all judicial hierarchies pretty quickly and is likely to be implemented shortly. Both Hyderabad and Unnao cases unlikely to see long delay. So no need to despair.

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Source: NCRB

AND NO CLOSURE, EITHER, FOR 3 CASES THAT ROCKED THE CAPITAL IN LAST 11 YEARS

NIRBHAYA | 2012

A crime so horrific that it shook the entire country, not just Delhi, where it took place. The December 2012 gang rape, and the eventual death, of a young woman in a moving bus at night, changed rape laws. As the laws were made more stringent, fast-track courts were set up to hear rape cases.

After the arrest of six men, one of them a juvenile, Delhi Police charged the five adult accused with murder, rape, attempt to murder, kidnapping, unnatural offences and dacoity. Later, Ram Singh, one of the accused, died in jail, apparently by suicide. In 2013, a fast-track court found the men guilty and awarded them capital punishment. This was confirmed by Delhi high court the same year. When the men appealed to the Supreme Court, it stayed their execution in 2014.

Two years later, the court heard their appeals and dismissed them a year later. In 2018, the apex court dismissed the review petitions of three convicts, the fourth, Akshay, having declined to file a review petition. The four have not been executed because any court issuing the black warrant to carry out the hanging has to await a decision on a mercy plea filed by Vinay Kumar Sharma to the President of India. Nirbhaya’s parents recently moved the trial court seeking to fast-track the death penalty. They told the court that none of the four guilty men had a clemency or curative application pending before the Supreme Court.

JIGISHA GHOSH | 2009

Info tech professional Jigisha Ghosh worked in Noida. She was abducted and killed on March 18, 2009, soon after she was dropped by her office cab at 4am near her home in Vasant Vihar in South Delhi. Her body was recovered three days later from a place near Surajkund in Haryana. The accused had taken her gold ornaments, two mobile phones and her debit and credit cards.

Three men were arrested and a trial court awarded death to two of them, Ravi Kapoor and Amit Shukla, in 2016, while sentencing Baljeet Malik to life in prison. However, a year later Ghosh’s family and prosecution suffered a setback when Delhi high court commuted the death penalty to a life sentence for Kapoor and Shukla while confirming Malik’s life term. Even as the case awaits the Supreme Court’s final decision, Delhi government earlier this year opposed parole to Kapoor, terming him a “hardened criminal” who is also facing trial in the Soumya Vishwanathan murder case.

SOUMYA VISHWANATHAN | 2008

Television journalist Soumya Vishwanathan was shot dead on September 30, 2008, when driving home from work late at night. The police charged three men for the crime, who were subsequently convicted in the murder of IT professional Jigisha Ghosh in Delhi in 2009. The trial is currently pending before a sessions judge in the Saket district court.

Earlier this year, Delhi high court ordered the court to expedite the trial and directed it to hear the case at least twice every week. But with the trial under way, the high court allowed Ravi Kapoor’s release on parole though it was stayed by the Supreme Court in July.

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