NHRC takes suo motu cognisance of alleged encounter in Hyderabad

Hyderabad: Taking suo motu cognisance of the petition filed by human rights forums, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed its fact-finding team to the Hyderabad encounter spot immediately.

Several human rights activists have cried foul, in the wake of the alleged encounter by Telangana police against the four accused in Disha’s rape and murder. Suspecting the alleged encounter to be staged, People’s Watch, a human rights organisation, had filed a petition to NHRC requesting an independent probe into the encounter.

Alleging that all the four accused were unarmed at the time of police custody, the activists expressed their doubts about the police version of the encounter in their petition. They further raised concerns about the police’s intention in recreating the scene early in the morning. The organisation requested for a proper investigation into the logbooks and movement records of the police to establish their numbers.

Calling the case as a custodial death, the human rights group has requested for a special team of autopsy surgeons and forensic experts to conduct a post-mortem and independent examination. The petition also says that officials need to be from states other than Telangana or Andhra Pradesh. They have also asked NHRC’s investigation team to examine the FIRs registered in the case and Daily Diary entry of the relevant police station of the day of the incident. Other information includes Wireless logbook record of the concerned police station, of government vehicles used by officers engaged in the said encounter, and Call Details Records (CDR) of mobile phones used by the officers involved in the encounter.

Commenting on the alleged encounter, Rekha Sharma, chairperson of NCW (National Commission for Women), said, “We were demanding speedy justice through the proper legal system, but now an encounter has happened. In this case, the police are the best judge to decide in what capacity they had to do it. Encounter is not always right, but in this problem, police said that accused were trying to snatch their weapons from them. Today, people are happy about this. However, we have a constitution and a legal system and justice should happen through that.”

The human rights forum has cited PUCL (Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties) guidelines in this case of suspected custodial death. The guidelines state that the team conducting the investigation should ensure that an FIR initiating proper criminal investigation must be registered in case of ‘encounter’ deaths and NHRC/State commission must be immediately informed of the encounter death. The regulations also say:

1. Ensure to recover and preserve evidentiary material, including bloodstained earth, hair, fibres etc., related to the death

2. Ensure that intact fingerprints of deceased are sent for chemical analysis. Any other fingerprints should be located, developed, lifted, and sent for chemical analysis.

3. Any evidence of weapons, such as guns, projectiles, bullets and cartridge cases, should be taken and preserved. Wherever applicable, tests for gunshot residue and trace metal detection should be performed.

Human Rights Forum demands arrest and prosecution of police involved in the Hyderabad encounter

Human Rights Forum (HRF) on December 6 demanded that all officers involved in the killing of four accused in the Disha case be immediately arrested and prosecuted for homicide.

The HRF wanted the investigation into this case handed over to CBI since Telangana police cannot be trusted to be fair in the matter. The judiciary must also take cognisance of these killings and respond appropriately.

The gruesome rape and murder of Disha on November 27 have fuelled strong passions in society with many clamouring for the accused to be handed over for a public lynching. The police have taken advantage of this sentiment to commit a deliberate and cold-blooded murder of four men in their custody. As usual, they have trotted out the ludicrous version of self-defence.

S Jeevan Kumar (HRF Coordination Committee member, AP and Telangana) and G Madhava Rao (HRF Telangana president) said that this is the third such incident of deliberate custodial killing of alleged perpetrators of crimes.

We recall the December 2008 murdering of three accused in an acid attack in Warangal. On October 20, 2007, Visakhapatnam police murdered two men, who were accused in the brutal murder of a Bank of Indore branch manager, near Yendada. In both cases, the police put out the absurd self-defence plea. Such deaths are methodical slayings by police of accused men in their physical custody.

It would be a fallacy to imagine that some form of justice has been served by abandoning all due process and committing such killings. Is it permissible for police personnel to play judge, jury, and executioner, and mete out fatal justice in this manner? Is the “satisfying of the collective conscience” in such a brazenly unlawful and murderous way healthy for a democracy? Does the killing of rape and murder accused act as any deterrent against heinous crimes?

Are such killings going to make women safer? We think not. Preventing crimes against women involves a long, sustained, and sophisticated battle that has to be fought in, among other areas, society, our homes, educational, and workplaces. Endowing police with the sanction to commit murders of accused is no answer. They only distract and shield the State from accountability. Moreover, celebrating such killings amounts to inhumanity. Such acts are uncivilised, brutal, and those officers responsible for today’s crime must be brought to book, Jeevan Kumar and Madhava Rao added.

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan is a reporter at the NewsMeter. Shortly after completing her Master's in Communication at the University of Hyderabad, she began teaching courses on media and culture as a guest lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong. Amritha has previously interned with news organisations such as Greater Kashmir and Newslaundry. A lover of travel and photography, she spends most of her time planning road trips to the North-East. Nothing makes her happier than a green turf and a team to play football with. She primarily reports on education, tech, human-interesting and critical features.

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