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TOI EDIT-Dead Before Trial Let’s not celebrate encounters

December 07, 2019 05:52 AM


Dead Before Trial
Let’s not celebrate encounters
The wheel has come full circle for Hyderabad police. For a week the police was facing outrage over the gang rape-murder of a veterinary doctor coupled with an alleged callous, apathetic response to her family’s attempt to lodge an FIR. In the wake of the encounter killing of the four men accused of raping her, a section of protesters are feting the cops. The police version that they were conducting a crime scene reconstruction in the wee hours of the morning when the accused attempted to escape requires threadbare judicial scrutiny. If true it only lays bare the colossal incompetence of the police.

Perhaps a byproduct of a long Maoist insurgency, Telangana has had infamous encounter killings in recent years, like the 2015 killing of five terror suspects in a police van taking them to court and the 2008 killing of three men accused of acid attacks on two engineering students. Kneejerk responses like encounters and the celebration of such killings reveal terribly disturbing realities. There is deep, and entirely understandable, frustration about delayed trials that are a denial of justice to victims. But the Constitution and the evolution of criminal laws have taken care not to vest all powers in one person or institution. This is for good reason.

Allowing police to play judges and executioners will foster a lynch mob mentality, already discernible in recent hate crimes. Recall the bus driver wrongly paraded as accused by police for murdering an eight-year-old Gurgaon school student. If kneejerk reactions become the norm crimes and injustices will not just proliferate, the latter will also be irreversible. A nationwide systemic overhaul must ensure that all rape trials are fast tracked. Extra-judicial killings are no substitute for diligent policing and a responsive justice system. It is unfortunate that the alleged Hyderabad rapists were killed before their guilt could be proved

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