Reactions of some former senior police officials from Maharashtra on Hyderabad encounter were mixed on Friday, with some justifying the action citing the circumstances, while others condemning it as undesirable "short-cut". The four men arrested for the rape and murder of a 25- year-old woman veterinarian in Hyderabad last month were killed in an `exchange of fire' with a police team on Friday morning.
Former Maharashtra Director General of Police D Sivanandhan said this kind of "short-cut" will not help with the prevention of crime in the long run. The 1976-batch IPS officer, whose tenure in Mumbai in the 1990s saw several encounters of gangsters, said, "After the encounter, the police may get praised for a short period, but it is not good in the long run."
Sivanandhan also said it was better to take measures to prevent crime against women with the help of technology. "There should be proper patrolling and adequate police presence all over the city," he said. Another former top official of Mumbai Police said, requesting anonymity, "Whatever happened should not have happened, especially when the accused were in police custody."
Julio Ribeiro, former Mumbai police commissioner, and Punjab DGP condemned the encounter. "The judicial process system is not working. That is why these short-cuts are adopted under pressure from the public and politicians," he said.
S S Virk, who served as DGP of Maharashtra and Punjab, said going by the circumstances narrated by Hyderabad Police, the action was justified. "TV clips show that people are very happy with the police action. I do not disagree with them. (But) While praising the encounter, on the whole, we also have to see whether there was any legal lacuna," he said.
"The rape and murder were barbaric. If such things start happening then no girl or woman will feel safe," Virk said, adding that it was a crime against the entire society. "In the Nirbhaya case, strong legal action was taken against the accused. They were all sentenced to death, but have not been hanged so far," he pointed out.
"The legal system loses its impact in such cases. When our criminal justice system becomes weak and ineffective, the public expects strong action. Then even if the action is not strictly legal, people welcome it," he said. "We have to fast-track our system, make it more effective," Virk said.
Former Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh, who is now the BJP MP from Baghpat, hailed the encounter. "I would like to congratulate Hyderabad Police for tackling the situation with great valour. It would've been a big stain on the uniform if the culprits would've managed to escape from custody. Jai Hind," he said in a tweet.
Retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Prafulla Bhosale, one of the Mumbai police officers who gained fame as `encounter specialists', justified the killings, saying it was the "need of the situation". "It is justified as the accused tried to snatch the weapons of policemen during the crime scene reconstruction," he said. "Had the accused managed to flee, it would have been disgusting for the police and they would have been blamed for negligence," he added.
Former Delhi Police commissioner Neeraj Kumar, who handled the 2012 Nirbhaya Delhi gangrape-and-murder case, on Friday said the thought of killing the accused never crossed his mind. Former Delhi Police commissioner recalled that it was a "tough time" when the Nirbhaya case was reported in December 2012 since the policemen were treated as "rapists."
"There was a lot of pressure at that time, but the thought of killing them never came. We were getting messages, asking us to throw the accused in front of hungry lions. Someone said castrate them in public, someone said lynch them, but we just stuck to our guns. There was no question of doing anything illegal," former Delhi Police commissioner Neeraj Kumar said.
"To investigate what actually happened and transpired, there is a judicial inquiry that has been ordered. We have to wait for its findings to know whether the encounter was justified or not," the ex-cop who handled the Nirbhaya case said.
(With PTI inputs)