Eight days after the gang rape and murder of a veterinary lady doctor in Hyderabad, four men suspected of committing the heinous crime were shot dead in an encounter by police on Friday morning near the same spot where the crime was committed.
Police had taken the four suspects for "reconstruction of crime", when, according to police, the suspects snatched two pistols from 10 policemen, but were shot dead in the encounter that followed. Late in the evening, the Telangana High Court directed police to preserve the bodies till December 9, videograph the post mortem and submit the video to the local district judge.
As news spread about the encounter, hundreds of people gathered at the spot, showered flowers on policemen and shouted slogans in support of the police. There were similar scenes of jubilation in several other cities of India. The sister and father of the rape victim said, 'justice has finally been done'.
Such scenes of jubilation denote one clear point: that people want justice faster, they want that the perpetrators of such heinous crimes are punished at the earliest. For them, it does not matter whether justice is meted out by the court, or the government, or the police. This is a crucial point that must be noted by both law makers and law enforcers.
It is heartening to note that most of the politicians have now begun to understand the mood and pulse of the nation. Most of the women MPs in Parliament welcomed the encounter. BJP MP Locket Chatterjee even said, "instead of giving food to rapists inside jails, there should be a law so that such accused are shot dead in encounters. When such encounters happen, there will be fear in the minds of rapists."
The work of the police is to control crime, collect evidences of crime and provide justice to victims. It is the duty of courts to dispense justice. On Friday morning, if the suspects had fled with the policemen's pistols, imagine the amount of anger that the people would have directed towards the police.
The support that the Hyderabad police got for the Friday encounter can be summed up from an incident narrated by noted public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam. He said, a convict in the gangrape and murder case of a woman in Pune was given the death sentence by the Supreme Court, his mercy petition was rejected by the President, and yet, for two years the convict was not hanged. Ultimately, the death sentence was commuted to life sentence. There are dozens of similar cases.
Let me give one fact. After the stringent anti-rape legislation was enacted after the infamous Nirbhaya case in Delhi, nearly four lakh rape cases were reported across India. In some of the cases, justice was meted out, but most of the rape cases are still pending in courts.
Since dispensing justice takes up a lot of time, people's confidence in judiciary begins to wane. In such a situation, the common public hails those individuals and groups that dispense instant justice and give a lesson to such perpetrators. This is what exactly happened in Hyderabad on Friday morning.
The nationwide jubilation over the encounter should serve as a warning to lawmakers: that people are fast losing their patience for justice. It should act as a lesson for law enforcers. If we do not wake up in time, it will be too late.
If we have to control crimes, instill fear in the minds of criminals and ensure safety for our daughters, we have to speed up the pace of judicial process. Let justice be dispensed faster, and the criminals be punished at the earliest. There must be no escape route in the form of mercy petitions.
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