Are we the Taliban, asks Maneka Gandhi on Hyderabad encounter
The former Minister for Women and Child Development talks about the dangers of "allowing the police to become the judiciary" and the long-term effects this could have on the electorate
The reported encounter of the four accused in the Hyderabad rape and murder case on Friday morning has created a rift, leaving the nation divided. On one hand, there are people celebrating the 'immediate justice' that was delivered, and on the other, there are those ashamed of the abortion of the rule of law.
Lok Sabha MP and former Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi belongs to the latter group. In a conversation with Sunday mid-day, she explains how abandoning due procedural law could have implications on the Indian electorate, and goes on to question whether the four accused, who were reportedly killed in an encounter, were the true culprits.
Do you think justice was delivered in the encounter that took place on Friday?
No, I don't. I think that if you are allowing the police to become the judiciary as well, then you are putting everyone in danger. They [police] had not filed a chargesheet and had not finished their investigation. Could it be that they shot them [the accused] because they were not the right people and they had no proof?
How does the encounter affect the Indian electorate?
It gives a signal to the police that they can do whatever they want. The question is: do you want killing in the police stations to go up? Do you want more people to be beaten inside jails and lockups? Do you want the rule of law to be subverted? Are we the Taliban?
Celebrations followed the encounter. What do you make of that?
People are celebrating because they are fed up with the pace of law and justice. When this happens, people become happy when the law is broken. The lesson we have to learn is that we need to fast-track cases…you cannot spend a decade on an open-and-shut case. At the same time, you have to finish the procedure with all due diligence. You cannot shoot at sight. What are we even rejoicing for?
Do you believe there were bigger powers at play behind this encounter?
There is no doubt that it is a political thing. These four cops could not have done it on their own. But they should be jailed because they are a menace to society.
What precedent does the encounter set for the future?
I, on one hand, was deeply upset by what happened to that girl [Hyderabad vet]. On the other hand, you have to think about the long-term effects of a random murder by the police—and this will affect everybody. We've had numerous cases of people being beaten to death in police stations…this is murder. I am totally against the rule of law being broken. On Friday around 3 am, the four accused were killed in a reported encounter with the Telangana police when they were taken by the authorities to Chatanpally to recover the victim's phone, wallet and her power bank. Cyberabad Police Commissioner CV Sajjanar told reporters that the four accused were taken to the spot to recreate the crime scene and were not handcuffed, which is when they snatched the police personnel's weapons—which were in "unlocked" position— and opened fire on them, thereby forcing the police to resort to "retaliatory" firing.
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