Hang the Rapists Protests in India
© REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas
Demonstrators hold placards and shouts slogans during a protest against the alleged rape and murder of a 27-year-old woman on the outskirts of Hyderabad, in Mumbai, India, December 3, 2019.
All four of the men accused of a grisly rape and murder of a young Indian veterinarian have been shot dead by police, around the same area the young vet's badly burned remains were discovered.

The men had reportedly been taken to an area near the initial crime scene by police in order to reconstruct the events that led up to 26-year-old Priyanka Reddy's horrific death when one of the accused grabbed an officer's service weapon and fired, attempting an escape. All four were killed when police shot back, according to the Shamshabad district police chief.

The group was arrested in late November after Reddy's charred corpse was found by a local resident beneath an overpass on the outskirts of the city of Hyderabad. According to police, the group punctured a tire on Reddy's unattended motorbike and then offered to give her a ride when she returned, ultimately abducting the young woman. It is believed she died of suffocation before the men attempted to incinerate her remains.

The gruesome killing sparked widespread outrage and protests across India, with tens of thousands gathering on the streets of Hyderabad to demand justice for Reddy. Police were forced to call in reinforcements to prevent an enraged mob from lynching the suspects on the spot, ultimately dispersing the crowd when demonstrators began hurling projectiles at officers. The accused were identified as Mohammad Areef - the prime suspect - Jollu Shiva, Jollu Naveen, and Chintakunta Chennakeshavulu. Many Indians demanded a harsh punishment for the suspects in the wake of the murder, including the death penalty, with the mother of one of the men even stating: "If my son is wrong, burn him the same way [Reddy] was burned."

While the reaction to the men's killing in what is reported to be an ill-fated escape attempt was overwhelmingly positive on social media - many commending the police for "dealing" with the criminals - some were more critical, arguing it sets a "dangerous" precedent.

Others wondered whether the encounter was a deliberate public relations stunt staged by the police to boost their image, though little evidence was offered in support of the theory.

Comment: Reports of controversial "encounter deaths" are a common news item in Indian Media, when Police are dealing with left wing Naxalite extremist elements. Often, police are accused of using excessive force and the lack of accountability in these deaths.

It is possible that the angry, disgusted masses, who are impatient with the slow justice system, celebrated this particular "encounter death". Even though there is no real evidence to show this encounter death was a deliberate act, left leaning liberal journalists like Rajdeep Sardesai and Faye DSouza have no problem in suspecting "foul play" and condemning it as an undeclared "Rule of Law".

The father of the victim was also allowed a chance to weigh in, telling the ANI news agency: "It has been 10 days to the day my daughter died. I express my gratitude towards the police [and government] for this. My daughter's soul must be at peace now."