All four accused in the gang-rape and murder of a veterinarian in Telangana were shot dead in an encounter with the Cyberabad police on Friday morning. This is the second such incident where accused of gender-based violence were gunned down under the leadership of commissioner V C Sajjanar, IPS.
Even before Friday's encounter, social media users had started demanding for a "Warangal style" justice for Disha. The cry was in reference to a December 2008 case in Warangal, where two engineering college students were attacked with acid by three men.
Like in the recent case, the Warangal police too had claimed to have cracked the case within 24 hours and arrested the suspects, identified as Srinivasa Rao, P Harikrishna and B Sanjay. They were killed on the outskirts of Warangal, where they had allegedly hidden the acid bottles used in the crime.
After the encounter, Sajjanar had told reporters that the police acted in self-defence, "as the accused suddenly took out a country-made weapon and tried to open fire and also threw acid on policemen". Sajjanar was hailed by thousands of youngsters for the "quick action by the police". Many people even queued up outside his residence to greet him and present him with sweets.
As history has repeated itself, the commissioner is being labelled a hero again.
Was justice delivered?
However, the praises have not come in unison. While many people are hailing the police for the encounter, the others said that it is a sign of the "broken justice system" in the country.
The National Media Panellist of All India Congress Committee (AICC), Shama Mohamed wrote on Twitter: "Every Indian wanted the guilty in the Disha Case to be brought to justice. But when an Encounter is cheered, its a very worrying sign for society. Why did Telangana police not take adequate security measures while transporting the accused, especially in such a high profile case?"
In a contrasting reaction, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Mayawati said the "strong actions like these " should be implemented in Uttar Pradesh as well. "Rape cases are reported from across the country, especially from UP. I feel we should take strong action like this. Here, we see that rape-accused are being treated as guests and not criminals. Hope the attitude changes for the better," she said.
Meanwhile, others like Supreme Court lawyer Karuna Nundy have questioned the police. "Now nobody will ever know if the four men killed by the police were innocent men, arrested fast to show action. And whether four of the most brutal rapists roam free, to rape and kill more women," she wrote on Twitter.
"And what on earth were the police "investigating" at 3.30 am all this time later? When they were sleeping during the golden hour of evidence, refusing to register an FIR, when the young vet was alive?" she added.
'Daughter's soul must be at peace'
While the debate around circumstances of the encounter continues, the father of the victim has expressed his gratitude towards the authorities for their actions. "It has been 10 days to the day my daughter died. I express my gratitude towards the police & govt for this. My daughter's soul must be at peace now," he said.
Nirbhaya's mother Asha Devi also praised the police and said, "I am extremely happy with this punishment. Police has done a great job & I demand that no action should be taken against the police personnel." She added that Nirbhaya's rapists should also be hanged at the earliest.
'BJP will react after a probe statement'
Meanwhile, the ruling party at the Centre, Bharatiya Janata Party, has said that it still "premature to react" on the incident and the party will wait for the Telangana DGP to make an official statement. The party has urged the DGP to convene a press conference.
But the BJP MP from Jaipur (Rural) has congratulated the Hyderabad police and the state leadership. "Let all know this is the country where good will always prevail over evil," he said, justifying that the police acted in self-defence.