Indian police fatally shoot four suspects in gang-rape case

SHADNAGAR, INDIA (AP) — Indian police yesterday fatally shot four men suspected of raping and killing a woman in southern India, drawing both praise and condemnations in a case that has sparked protests across the country.

The suspects were in police custody and had not been formally charged with any crime.

The burned body of a woman — a 27-year-old veterinarian — was found last week by a passer-by near Hyderabad after she went missing the previous night.

At around 3am yesterday, the suspects were taken to the sites where the incident are believed to have taken place and the spot in an underpass where the woman’s body was burned about half a kilometre away, according to Shreedharan, an official in the police commissioner’s office who uses one name.

Another police official said the suspects tried to grab an officer’s firearm and escape. That officer spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Indians had rallied on the streets of Hyderabad, New Delhi and Mumbai and called on social media for swift justice in a country where sentencing is notoriously delayed by backlogged courts.

Head of the Delhi Commission for Women Swati Maliwal started an indefinite hunger strike, demanding that the perpetrators be hanged within six months.

Maliwal said yesterday that police “had no choice but to shoot”.

She said she is continuing her fast to demand swift hangings in other violence cases because she thinks capital punishment will act as a deterrent.

The police killings were raised in Parliament by the Congress party and other opposition groups, which demanded a probe into the incident.

“This type of justice is counterfeit,” said Secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association Kavita Krishnan.

“The killings are a ploy to shut down our demand of accountability from governments, judiciary and police, and dignity and justice for women. We demand a thorough investigation into this,” she said.

Lawmaker from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and a former Cabinet minister Maneka Gandhi accused police of taking the law into their own hands.

“They would’ve been hanged by court anyway. If you’re going to kill the accused before any due process of law has been followed, then what’s the point of having courts, law and police?” she said.

About 300 people gathered at the crime scene in Shadnagar, a town in the state of Telangana about an hour southwest of Hyderabad, to praise police for killing the suspects.