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Thursday 4 June 2020

Politicians, lawyers, journalists question Hyderabad ‘encounter’

While journalists condemned the encounter killing, some politicians exercised caution to avoid antagonising people who were cheering the cops

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Amid the euphoria of people at large, thought leaders of society have begun questioning the killing of the four rape and murder accused in the police ‘encounter’ near Hyderabad. Many politicians, lawyers, senior journalists and other eminent citizens have condemned the encounter. If in the morning it was CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury, by afternoon it was BJP MP Maneka Gandhi. If #JusticeForDisha was trending on top in the morning, now it is #FakeEncounter.

Maneka Gandhi says the encounter was dangerous as a precedent or norm. “There is law in our country; there is a court, so why are you already firing a gun? Will you kill people with a gun? If a case is delayed, will you use the gun? They were unarmed, were brought from jail; you killed them with a gun,” she said.

Earlier, when journalist Rukmini S tweeted, “A brazen extra-judicial killing if there ever was one – spare us the tired script. This isn’t instant justice – this is the absence of justice. We’re not going to make women safer by abandoning the rule of law – is that so hard to understand?” Yechury and Sharmistha Mukherjee were among politicians who endorsed this view.

CPM leader Yechury quoted the tweet to say, “Extra-judicial killings cannot be the answer to serious concerns over the safety of women.”

Yechury added, “How we must secure the lives and dignity of each of our citizens, must be what civilised societies are about. Justice can never be retribution. Why is the tough law put in place on the safety of women after the 2012 Delhi crime not being implemented properly?”

As some politicians despaired, others were careful in their choice of words so as not to antagonise the people. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal saying, “People were angry, whether the matter was of Unnao or Hyderabad. So they are expressing happiness over the encounter. It is also a matter of concern as to why people have lost faith in the criminal justice system. All governments will have to work on strengthening it.”

But Baba Ramdev is with the team of Police Commissioner VC Sajjanar. The yoga guru and mascot of Patanjali healthcare products said that rapists, terrorists, police and Army should all take such action. “The decision should be on the spot. Such should be the case with these dreaded criminals,” Baba said.

“What the police have done is very courageous and I must say that justice has been delivered. Legal questions over it are a different matter, but I am sure people of the country are at peace now,” Baba Ramdev said.

Senior journalist Shekhar Gupta opposed this by tweeting, “Anybody cheering mafia-style Hyderabad ‘justice’ should never complain about ISIS beheadings, Taliban lynchings & Maoist kangaroo court executions. Modern, civilised state evolved over millennia, but we still have no patience for due process—as long as victims are ‘others’.”

INC politician and daughter of former President Pranab Mukherjee, Sharmistha Mukherjee quoted Gupta’s tweet and said, “This encounter did not happen due to public pressure. Police and government should not abuse their rights.”

Mukherjee added, “(The) Problem is (that) the people are losing faith in institutions due to inordinate delay in delivering justice. Timebound investigation, speedy trial and quick implementation of verdict required to restore faith in the system. To counter public outrage, huge police and judicial reforms required, not ‘encounters’.”

She also quoted journalist Bhupendra Chaudhary who had written, “Difficult to think rationally in #hyderabadpolice encounter case. The brutality of crime so huge, some strong message needed to go to anyone who doesn’t believe in women’s safety.” Mukherjee added:

Senior advocate Vikas Singh said, “The rule of law should run in the country. This should be investigated immediately.”

Shubham Verma tweeted, “Eliminating the dreaded criminals in this way indicates a weak system.”

National Commission for Women chairperson Rekha Sharma did not tilt either way. She was more cautious than politicians when she said, “Only the police can tell the truth or its investigation will reveal the truth.”

Former home minister P Chidambaram said, “The encounter should be investigated, if criminals were running away, did they have weapons?”

“We cannot allow an excess of emotion to override common sense & rationality. This is a threat to the Indian societal fabric. If those men were guilty, the cops are also guilty. We can’t allow Extra-Judicial killings, lest soon by extension we will normalise honour killings too,” tweeted author Katherine Abraham.

INC leader Shashi Tharoor quoted the author’s tweet to say, “Agree in principle. We need to know more, for instance, if the criminals were armed, the police may have been justified in opening fire preemptively. Until details emerge, we should not rush to condemn. But extra-judicial killings are otherwise unacceptable in a society of laws.”

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