Hyderabad: Rare is an agreement on any issue between law enforcement agencies and human rights activists. Even rarer if the topic is an “encounter” killing.
But in an unprecedented exception, after the death in an encounter of the four accused in the Disha gang rape and murder case, the Telangana police reportedly initiated and undertook some “back channel” discussions with certain rights activists, requesting them to come out and publicly support the police action (encounter), something unheard of ever before.
The attempt by men in khaki to garner support from rights activists to get public support for their encounter, however, failed.
Informed sources told Deccan Chronicle that soon after the early morning encounter killing of the four accused men on the outskirts of the city on December 6, telephone calls were made to at least eight human rights activists, urging them to “publicly support the encounter killing”.
Some police officials, reportedly at the behest of senior officials, even met some human right activists personally, and “urged them” that they take a “different stand this time”, keeping in mind the “sentiments of ordinary people”, a majority of who seem to have supported the “instant justice” delivered by the Telangana police.
Initially, the state and city police had came in for sharp criticism from all sections of society for the lapses on their part, including a delay in registering an FIR, or the Home Minister Md Mahboob Ali making a statement blaming Disha for not calling 100, and the manner in which they handled the investigation. People did not even spare Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, who came under attack for not paying a visit to the victim’s family.
But post the encounter, celebrations erupted nation-wide, and in particular, in the city of Hyderabad and across the state. The Telangana and Cyberabad police, in particular, VC Sajjanar, Police Commissioner, were hailed as heroes.
Not right time to talk about human rights
Sources said that police officers who personally met a few activists told them that since there was massive public support for police, support from activists will “go a long way” and send across a signal to criminals that no section of society would tolerate ghastly crimes. The police urged rights activists to give statements in media in support of the encounter. Cops tried to convince the activists that “this was not the right time to talk about human rights” but to instead extend all out support to police. The men in uniform painstakingly, sources revealed, “explained why the entire country needs to be on the same page” whenever ghastly offences like Nirbhaya and Disha take place.
While some of the activists chose to get rid of the police officials, saying they would think about it and revert later, others declined upfront to toe the police line.
“I heard the police official patiently and then made my point that though it was a horrific crime, justice cannot be meted out through encounter killings. They tried to convince that the encounter was genuine and the four men were shot dead when they tried to attack the police party. But I don’t buy this absurd theory,” an activist, on condition of anonymity, said. Another activist, who said that the request from the police department indeed caught him by surprise, claimed that those at the top had instructed the police to take rights activists into confidence. “Perhaps, their aim was to influence the central agencies or even courts, and to get some sort of cover. But there is no question of supporting these kind of encounter killings,” the activist said.