Following the direction of the Supreme Court to constitute a three-member inquiry panel led by a retired top court judge, Justice VS Sirpurkar to inquire into the Hyderabad encounters in which four accused was shot dead, the Telangana police are now anxious as reports of irregularities in the investigation have emerged.
According to the Sunday Guardian report, the apex court’s inquiry has shocked the top brass of the Telangana police as there are now reports that four accused who were shot dead may have been minors and secondly there is no concrete evidence for their involvement in the crime.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde had ordered for an independent inquiry to unearth all facts surrounding the encounter killing of the four youths, who were accused of raping and murdering the victim on 27 November.
On December 6, the four youths were killed by the police of Cyberabad in an encounter when the four accused had tried to attack the police officials and flee from the police custody on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
A series of writ petitions has been filed in the Supreme Court alleging that the encounter was fake. These petitions filed by different groups had alleged that the police had tried to hide facts rather than bringing the guilty to justice.
Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for the Telangana government, had resisted a suggestion from the Supreme Court for a probe as already the High Court, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and an SIT were on the same job.
The Telangana government has already constituted an SIT led by senior IPS officer and Rachakonda police commissioner, Mahesh Bhagawat, to investigate the sequence of events right from the gang rape, murder by burning the victim alive to the encounter killing of the accused.
Meanwhile, the NHRC has also sent its own team to Hyderabad on the same day of the encounter. The Human rights panel team returned to Delhi on Thursday and submitted its finding to the Supreme Court. The High Court had stayed the cremation of the bodies of the accused, till Telangana police had submitted a report on the encounter. The Supreme Court’s panel will also submit its report within six months.
Reportedly, the Cyberabad police are finding tough to answers to questions raised by these three independent investigations. With Supreme Court’s ordering to set up another panel, the Cyberabad police will be under pressure to prove their case.
The Supreme Court order has pushed the gang rape and murder of the victim to the background while focusing on the encounter of the accused, said Sunday Guardian while quoting a source.
Reportedly, the Cyberabad police have enough evidence to prove the circumstances that led to the killing of the four accused at the spot. However, reports suggest that four accused were minors at the time of the incident and there is no substantial evidence to establish their crime.
Cyberabad police commissioner VC Sajjanar, who appeared before the Supreme Court this week, faced the judges who were not satisfied with the ongoing probe at the state level. The top court has now stayed all the three probes—NHRC, HC and the SIT. There is uncertainty over powers of the Supreme Court initiated probe panel.
On Thursday, the Telangana High Court also directed the state government to seek clarification from the Supreme Court on the cremation of the dead bodies of the accused that are lying in the mortuary of Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad for the last one week. Already, two post-mortems were conducted on these bodies and there is a chance of one more being carried out by the Supreme Court panel.
The worry for the Cyberabad police is the presence of former Bombay High Court judge, Rekha Baltoda and former CBI chief DR Karthikeyen on the panel as cops feel that the experts may go into minute details of the encounter. Some rights activists had demanded that the case be referred to the CBI.
A major concern of the Telangana police is that the Aadhaar cards of the four accused—Mohammad Arif, Shiva, Chennakesavulu, Srinu and Naveen states that they were all minors, below the age of 18 years. However, the FIR filed by the Cyberabad police at the Shadnagar police station mentioned their ages between 21 and 26. The policemen do not have any recorded evidence to prove their point as per the report.
If the youths turned out to be minors, then the police will be facing a lot of heat from the Supreme Court panel regarding the loopholes in the investigation procedure. The Cyberabad police have built their entire case based on the confessional statements of the accused and there is not enough independent evidence to prove their culpability.