Hyderabad: On a wintery December night in 2008, public anger had swept the state after two women engineering students of Kakatiya Institute of Technology were attacked with acid. Three young men, who had thrown acid in Warangal, were arrested within 48 hours. The demand from the angry citizens was to kill all three in an ‘encounter.’'
Hours after the arrest was announced, they were taken to the scene of offence as part of gathering evidence when, according to the police, they tried to attack the policemen with a country made weapon and acid that they had buried in the location. The police shot dead all three in self-defence. The young superintendent of police of Warangal district, Mr V.C. Sajjanar — whose team killed the three accused — had become a hero for thousands of youngsters who garlanded him, presented him bouquets, shook hands and even hoisted him on their shoulders, something rare in the history of the undivided AP police. For Mr Sajjanar, an officer known to keep a low profile and who is described as a "silent operator" by his colleagues, all the attention was, perhaps a bit awkward.
Eleven years later, Mr Sajjanar, now a senior IPS officer and police commissioner of Cyberabad, once again finds himself in a similar situation as public anger peaks over the brutal rape and murder of veterinary doctor P. Priyanka Reddy by four men, who were arrested within 48 hours of the crime. The statement by home minister Mohammed Mahmood Ali that Priyanka should have dialled 100, the police helpline, instead of calling her sister, has sparked massive outrage.
Was the police — which has come in for sharp criticism for the way it dealt with the case — planning "something more than mere arrest" to calm down tempers and be the "heroes" once again in the public eye?
If the hush-hush discussions among the police brass and their bosses in government are any indication, there were quite a few "options" on the table, other than arrest, which could have shown the Chandrasekhar Rao government as a gutsy government. The discussions reportedly went on for quite some time before Mr Sajjanar announced the arrests at a press conference. However, the Warangal 'encounter' on the night of December 13, 2008, had taken place a few hours after the arrest.
Well informed sources told Deccan Chronicle that various options and scenarios were being discussed even as the interrogation of the four accused was underway. While some were of the opinion that "results have to be shown" immediately, there were suggestions that came from some officials. But in the end, it is learnt, the top bosses in the government directed the police to go ahead with arrest.
The hush-hush discussion that "something more than arrest" would calm public anger was aimed at sending across a message that the Telangana police will not taking things lying down when it came to such macabre crimes. "The pros and cons of various scenarios were discussed," was all an official said. They said that often it becomes difficult for the men in khaki to take a decision on the course of action when public anger is high.