Hyderabad vet rape case: 4 remanded to judicial custody

4 accused in the rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad have been remanded to judicial custody amid high protests

Protestors and police clash during a demonstration demanding justice for P Priyanka Reddy, who was working as an assistant veterinarian at a state-run hospital and whose charred remains was found under a culvert, in Hyderabad, Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. (PTI Photo)

Amid high drama with a large crowd facing off against police, the four accused in the rape and murder of a woman veterinarian here were sent to judicial custody for 14 days on Saturday. The executive magistrate passed the order at Shadnagar police station, where they were lodged, as they could not be produced before court following the presence of a restive crowd in front of the station demanding that the accused be handed over to them.

Police had to use mild force to control the crowd, police sources said. Stones were hurled at a police vehicle as they were being taken to a jail in Hyderabad. Police maintained tight vigil as people staged protests outside the station and shouted slogans against the culprits who raped and killed the 25-year-old veterinarian on Thursday night before burning her body. Police said the protests broke out in the morning and continued till the evening.

The crowd later dispersed. Some protesters demanded death penalty for the accused. Protests were also held by different student groups and others at various places in the state, demanding tough punishment to the accused.

"It is not enough if they are taken to court. They should be handed out the same treatment what they had done to the victim," a man said.

"If you cannot do it, hand them over to us," another said. Police assured the agitators that they would ensure 100 percent that the accused are convicted and sought their cooperation. Doctors who conducted medical tests on the accused as per procedure, told reporters that their condition was normal.

The local bar association has resolved not to offer any legal assistance to the accused in the case. Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy and a number of other leaders called on members of the deceased woman's family. Condemning the incident, both said the government would ensure that the culprits get tough punishment through expeditious investigation and trial.

Meanwhile, the veterinarian's family told the National Commission for Women on Saturday that Hyderabad Police wasted precious time which could have been used to save her life. NCW chief Rekha Sharma said a team of the women's panel visited the family who told them that the police played a "negative role" in the case.

The family members also said the police even alleged she had eloped with someone, Sharma said. She also slammed Telangana Home Minister Mohammed Mahmood Ali's remarks on the victim, saying such politicians do not deserve such positions and need to be sensitised about the sensitive matter. Ali stoked a controversy asking why she had not called police immediately. The NCW, in its report, said prima facie it observed that police officials delayed taking action in this case.

NCW member Shyamala Kundar said she recommended action against policemen, after inquiry, who allegedly did not respond on time to the family's complaint. She found fault with the policemen who allegedly told the victim's sister, who had gone to lodge a complaint, that the case did not fall under their jurisdiction. Kishan Kumar Reddy said the Centre was going to take many steps, including changing laws, to prevent recurrence of such incidents. The government would change laws in such a way that police would not be able to say that a particular issue does not come under their jurisdiction, he said.

State Congress president and MP N Uttam Kumar Reddy demanded that the state government reduce sale of liquor. Meanwhile a group of medical students and software engineers in Hyderabad separately organised candle light marches, condemning the incident.

The veterinarian, whose charred body was found on the outskirts of Hyderabad, was raped before being killed by the four accused, all lorry workers, on the outskirts of Hyderabad on Thursday night. Police claimed that the men had also tried to forcibly make the woman drink alcohol. They were arrested on Friday.

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