Indian police have shot dead four men suspected of raping and killing a vet in the southern city of Hyderabad last week, police said on Friday.
The men were arrested last week in connection with the gang rape and murder that caused nationwide outrage.
The police told Al Jazeera the four men were taken to the crime scene in the early hours of Friday for a reconstruction of the crime.
“But they attacked the police party and tried to run away following which police fired and the men were killed,” Jitender, additional director general for law and order, Telangana Police, told Al Jazeera.
Prakash Reddy, a deputy commissioner of police in Hyderabad told AFP news agency that the suspects “tried to snatch weapons from the guards but were shot dead”.
“We called an ambulance but they died before any medical help could reach them.”
No details were immediately available about how many police officers had escorted the four accused and whether they were handcuffed or bound together as is usually the case.
Police in India have often been accused of extrajudicial killings, called “encounters”, especially in states experiencing armed rebellion such as Indian-administered Kashmir and the country’s northeast region.
Calls for quick punishment
The charred body of the 27-year-old woman was found on Thursday, November 28, in the town of Shadnagar, about 50km (31 miles) from Hyderabad, the capital of Telangana state.
Her body, which was found in an underpass by someone walking by, had been wrapped in a blanket and doused with kerosene.
She had gone missing the night before. Police said the suspects allegedly offered to fix a flat tyre on her motorbike and took her in a truck to a secluded spot where the crime was committed.
This is custodial killing.
On Saturday, November 30, hundreds of protesters gathered outside a police station on the outskirts of Hyderabad, where the suspects were kept, demanding the four be handed over to them.
Hyderabad: Locals had showered rose petals on Police personnel at the spot where accused in the rape and murder of the woman veterinarian were killed in an encounter earlier today pic.twitter.com/66pOxK1C2b
— ANI (@ANI) December 6, 2019
The chief minister of the state had promised to fast-track the case as protesters and legislators demanded tough and quick punishments, including public lynchings.
The victim’s father welcomed the news of the killing of the alleged perpetrators.
“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 was quoted as saying by ANI news agency.
Indian police registered more than 32,500 cases of rape in 2017, according to the most recent government data.
A Thomson Reuters Foundation poll of gender experts in 2018 rated India as the world’s most dangerous country for women.
On Thursday, a rape survivor was set on fire by five men in the northern city of Unnao while she was on the way to court in Rae Bareli for a hearing in her case. She is in critical condition after she suffered 90 percent burns on her body.
She identified two of the five attackers who were accused of raping her in March, police said.
‘This is not justice’
Crimes against women have continued unabated despite tough new laws that were enacted following the 2012 rape and murder of a woman in a Delhi bus that led to an outpouring of anger across the country.
Activists have blamed the governments for failing to check crimes against women and doing little to make public spaces safe for them.
To appease public rage over state failures against sexual assault, Indian authorities commit another violation. Cops execute Hyderabad suspects or were incompetent, letting them escape custody and then shooting to kill, not capture. https://t.co/RMW9kedwZX
— meenakshi ganguly (@mg2411) December 6, 2019
Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, criticised the killing of the suspects saying “this is not justice”.
“This is custodial killing,” she told Al Jazeera.
“The police is claiming that the suspects attacked the police party at the crime scene where the police had taken them to recreate the crime and they have to be killed. But that doesn’t hold the truth as the men were in police custody and were unarmed, so there is no question of them attacking the police.”
Bilal Kuchay contributed to the article from New Delhi