`Accused in Disha rape case were deliberately fired upon': Sirpurkar Commission punches holes in police version

It was stated in the final report that the two injured policemen (who got were injured in the attack by the deceased accused) were shifted to CARE hospital for treatment on December 6, 2019. The Commission found a dispute in the time at which hospital they were admitted. In one document, the injured policemen were referred to Care Hospital and in another document, they were said to have been referred to Osmania General Hospital.

By Amrutha Kosuru  Published on  20 May 2022 12:39 PM GMT
`Accused in Disha rape case were deliberately fired upon: Sirpurkar Commission punches holes in police version

Hyderabad: Telangana police have come under heavy criticism after Justice V S Sirpurkar Commission probing the 2019 Disha encounter case exposed the loopholes in the investigation process.

Justice V S Sirpurkar Commission has recommended that 10 police officers, who had allegedly killed four rape accused, should be tried for murder. The Commission submitted the report to the Supreme Court.

The commission found multiple loopholes in the police's version of the encounter.

Safehouse:

After the Judicial Magistrate granted police custody, the police identified a safe for the deceased suspects. The court identified primary contradictions about the lease of the safe house. The Manager of the Guesthouse said he did not know a rental deed in the preliminary investigation. Police however produced the deed in the Commission and SUT findings. And there is no record of payment made to the Guest House.

Furthermore, according to the police, the deceased confessed to the crime in the same safe house in the presence of two panchas. The commission found that certain statements are missing from the witness affidavits. The court concluded that the deceased did not make any confession on December 5-6, 2019. "Even otherwise, the credibility of the panchas, who are the only independent witnesses is in serious doubt," it was noted.

The commission further noted that since that there was no second confession at the safe house, there was no necessity at all to enter the agricultural fields.

As per the confessions recorded at the Shadnagar police Station, the deceased suspects are said to have stated that they had hidden the articles of Disha in the bushes at some distance from the place where the body was burnt. It is claimed that in the second confession, the deceased suspects stated that they have hidden the articles near a big electric pole on the eastern side at some distance from where the body was burnt. In this regard, the then the Commissioner of Police, VC Sajjanar stated in the press conference held on 06.12.2019 that, the articles of Disha were recovered from behind the bushes. However, when he was confronted with this during his examination by the Commission, he stated that it is erroneous.

Discrepancies:

The Commission noted that it is also strange that no steps have been taken to have the alleged articles identified by the family members of Disha. Disha's sister has categorically stated before the Commission that she was not summoned by the police after the incident. However, the investigating officer claimed the articles of the deceased were identified to be Disha's without verification. Additionally, the fingerprints on the articles found near the deceased were not analyzed by the forensic department to conclude that they belonged to Disha. This adds to the suspicion that they probably acted in haste to cool down the public agitation

Hospital:

It was stated in the final report that the two injured policemen (who got were injured in the attack by the deceased accused) were shifted to CARE hospital for treatment on December 6, 2019. The Commission found a dispute in the time at which hospital they were admitted. In one document, the injured policemen were referred to Care Hospital and in another document, they were said to have been referred to Osmania General Hospital.

Further, the commission also found discrepancies in records as the time of admission is not being revealed to the court. Additionally, despite claiming a shoulder injury to one of the policemen, the hospital records show brain and abdomen scan reports rather than a CT scan or X-Ray of the shoulder

It is claimed that the blood-stained clothes of the injured policemen were seized at Care Hospital on December 7, 2019, whereas the seizure memo shows that they were seized at the scene of the incident on the evening of December 6, 2019. On the contrary, according to a witness who is said to have treated the injured policemen in the first instance, is that the clothes of the injured policemen were not at all stained with blood.

Allegations:

"The allegation of snatching of pistols from two policemen present at the scene is artificial and unbelievable," the commission said.

The policemen gave different versions and missed out on various details during the inquiry.

While some witnesses said that they saw the gun being snatched, others only heard policemen shouting that his pistol was snatched.

Additionally, other officers of the SIT found that there is no material to indicate that the deceased suspects were familiar with the operation of firearms.

According to the Commission, these circumstances are compounded by the infirmities in the collection of gunshot residue (GSR) from the hands of the deceased suspects. The process of collection was neither photographed nor video graphed.

The approved methods of collection were not followed. The experts before the Commission have also stated before the Commission that it is possible to plant GSR. For all these reasons, it has to be held that the deceased suspects could not have fired those pistols and in fact, did not fire the pistols.

The Commission stated that the artificiality of the narration of the firing incident by the witnesses is best illustrated by a question put by the tribunal to one of the policemen

"Do you mean to say that the other two instead of running away stood there waiting to be shot dead?"

"I cannot say", the leader of the policemen said. It is equally demonstrative of the helplessness of the witnesses to give a rational answer.

"Therefore, it cannot be believed that the deceased suspects might have died due to the indiscriminate firing from the pistols allegedly snatched by them and it has to be held that all the deceased suspects died due to the injuries caused by the bullets fired by the police party. It cannot also be believed that the deceased suspects opened fire towards the police party," the Commission concluded.

The commission also found various discrepancies in the command for shooting.

As acknowledged by the Head of SIT, Mahesh Bhagwat himself, the very nature of the command given by one of the policemen, that is, to shoot in the direction of the sense of sound, and not to shoot at the deceased suspects but to shoot either at the side or down to catch them without losing their lives, are inconsistent with each other.

Further, all three police officers who shot at the deceased suspects stated that they were visible to them. If the deceased suspects were visible to them, logically there arises no question of shooting in the direction of the sound.

In the early hours of December 6, 2019, an incident took place on the outskirts of Chatanpally Village, Ranga Reddy District, in which four accused, Mohammed Arif, Jollu Shiva, Jollu Naveen, and Chintakunta Chennakesavulu died when they were in police custody. The police claim to have shot the victims in an act of self-defense. However, Based on the discrepancies in the police's version of the encounter killings, the Commission stated: "In our considered opinion, the accused were deliberately fired upon with an intent to cause their death and with the knowledge that the firing would invariably result in the death of the deceased suspect."

Background of the case

On the evening of November 27, 2019, Disha (name changed) left her home for a clinic in Gachibowli. She parked her Scooty, a two-wheeler near the toll plaza, and took a cab to the clinic. At 9.22 pm. she called her younger sister saying that the rear tyre of her Scooty had punctured and she accepted help from some truck workers. But then she was worried and expressed fear of being alone amid men who looked suspicious. The sister advised her to walk to the toll plaza and wait there. However, she hesitated to go there. After about six minutes, the call disconnected and Disha's phone remained switched off thereafter.

Around 10.30 pm. Disha's sister and parents approached RGIA Police Station. Police initially did not register the complaint claiming that they did not have jurisdiction and directed them to approach Shamshabad Rural Police Station. The relatives then searched the nearby areas and went to Shamshabad Rural Police Station. On November 28, 2019, the missing complaint was registered as Crime Number 480.

On 28th November 2019 morning, they received information from Samala Sathyam that he had seen a woman's dead body burning in the underpass on NH44 near Chatanpally Village investigation was taken up by Shadnagar Police. In the course of the investigation, the dead body was identified as that of Disha by her parents and Sister. Based thereon at around 9.00 am FIR in Crime No. 784 of 2019 was registered on the file of Shadnagar Police Station under Section 302 and 201 IPC.

On November 29, V C Sajjanar, Commissioner of Police, Cyberabad addressed a press conference and announced that four persons namely Mohammed Arif, Jollu Shiva, Jollu Naveen, and Chintakunta Chennakesavulu (hereinafter 'deceased suspects') were arrested in connection with the rape and murder of Disha. He also narrated the details of the incident which were said to have been disclosed by four persons in their confessional statements recorded by the police.

The next day, the four accused persons were produced for remand before Executive Magistrate, Farooq Nagar. They were remanded to Judicial Custody for 13 days. The four deceased suspects were then taken to Cherlapally Central Prison on the evening of 31st November 2019.

On 06th December 2019, it was widely reported in the media that the deceased suspects were killed when they attacked the police party which had taken them to Chatanpally to effect recovery of articles of Disha.

It was reported that the deceased had reportedly snatched firearms from the police and opened fire upon the police party and were subsequently killed in the exchange of fire. A few hours later, the then Commissioner of Police, Cyberabad, V C Sajjanar addressed the press conference and gave more details of the incident to the press.

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