Four men accused of raping and murdering a woman near Telangana's Hyderabad in India were shot dead by the police early Friday morning in what the cops claim was an "encounter" that followed after the men tried escaping, reports India Today.
All four were arrested last week in the high-profile rape and murder of the Telangana woman, a veterinary doctor in her mid-20s.
The gruesome nature of the crime -- the woman was allegedly trapped by the four men, raped, smothered before being burnt -- sent shockwaves through the country and, once again, revived the debate on women's safety in India.
The four men -- all lorry workers in their early 20s -- were arrested a day after the Telangana veterinary doctor's charred remains were found under a culvert on the National Highway 44 that links Hyderabad to Bengaluru. Her remains were found just outside of Hyderabad.
Under immense pressure, the Cyberabad Police, which is investigating the Telangana doctor's rape and murder, claimed to have solved the case within days, arresting four men for the crime. The four, police claimed, had spotted the woman park her scooter near a toll plaza on the highway after which they made an elaborate plan to rape her. The police claimed the four men punctured her scooter's tyre, trapped her when she returned, raped her, smothered her and then set her on fire.
All the four men were killed in an "encounter" this morning at the very spot where the woman's remains were discovered last week. Information about what happened Friday morning is scant, with police remaining tight-lipped. Here's what we know so far.
1. All the four men were imprisoned at the Cherlapally Central Jail, located on the outskirts of Hyderabad. The four were under a 24-hour watch and were jailed in separate wards.
2. Earlier this week, a court sent the four men to police custody. After their arrest last week, the four were under judicial custody. The police moved a plea seeking the men's custody for further investigation. This Wednesday, a local court allowed the police plea and sent the men to seven days of police custody.
3. On Thursday night, all the four men were taken out of the Cherlapally Central Jail by a seven-member police team in a bus. The cops wanted to reconstruct events of last Wednesday when the four allegedly trapped, raped and killed the Telangana veterinary doctor.
4. For the reconstruction, the police followed the exact timeline of the crime as it took place last week. And so, first the police took the four men to the Shamshabad toll plaza on the outskirts of Hyderabad. It was here the four men allegedly spotted the Telangana veterinary doctor last week and made plans to rape her.
5. At the toll plaza, the police questioned the four men and matched their statements with what the investigation had uncovered.
6. According to the investigation, the four men spotted the woman park her scooter at the toll plaza last Wednesday night. The four, who were drinking, made plans to rape her and one of them then punctured her scooter's rear tyre. When the woman returned, one of the four approached on the pretext of helping fix her scooter's punctured tyre. Then, the four dragged her to an isolated compound nearby, raped and smothered her before setting her on fire.
7. Now, last night with their investigation at the Shamshabad toll plaza done, the police team moved the four men to the culvert on the Hyderabad-Bengaluru highway under which the burnt remains of the Telangana doctor were discovered last week.
8. It was there, things went awry, according to the police. At the culvert, the police claim, the men -- who were apparently not handcuffed -- tried escaping. Unverified reports say the men snatched one of the policemen's guns and fired upon the cops.
9. The police claim they were forced to open fire on the four men due to the events of the point above. The men were found dead around 500 metres away from the site where the woman's body was found last week. Bodies of the four men were found 20-30 feet from each other. This was at around 3 am.
10. The police have not said much on the events on of last night and early Friday morning. A forensic team is examining the site of the incident and authorities have said that an investigation under guidelines framed by the Supreme Court for police encounters will be undertaken.