The Cyberabad police investigating the alleged gang-rape and murder of the 27-year-old veterinarian believe that the heinous offence could have been averted if the victim called Dial 100 or approached the Tondupally toll gate staff for help, instead of speaking to her sister over the phone.
“A patrol vehicle was just a few metres away from where she was abducted, and the toll gate was hardly 200 metres. The victim could have just informed police over Dial 100 or asked her sister to do so,” said an official.
Even when her phone got switched off, the victim’s family searched for the victim near the toll gate and did not approach the police till 2 a.m. “The offence took place around 9.45 p.m. and we have missed the golden hour of investigation,” he said.
Further, he said around 3.50 p.m. on Wednesday the victim left for work at a government veterinary centre in Mahabubnagar and returned home by 5.30 p.m.
After 20 minutes, she left home and parked her two-wheeler near the Tondupally toll gate and boarded a shared cab to Gachibowli, where she consulted a skin doctor. “At 9.20 p.m. she alighted from the cab and noticed that her vehicle’s tyre got punctured,” he said.
Then, two strangers offered her help and returned without fixing the two-wheeler’s tyre. A few minutes later, when another man took her vehicle and did not return, the woman called her sister and insisted that she talk for a few minutes.
Towards the end of her conversation, the veterinarian told her sister that she was scared but she tried to manage herself trying to be courageous before the unknown men abducted and killed her, before setting her afire at an underpass on the Hyderabad-Bengaluru national highway.
Usually, the stretch of NH is teeming with activity as hundreds of vehicles criss-cross the road. The place is close to the airport and vehicular movement is round the clock.
“The culprits must be aware of the terrain,” the investigators said, adding that the video footage of CCTV cameras was not clear.
When asked if the offence raised questions on the safety of women travelling at odd hours in the State capital, another officer said it was not a matter of safety but also depended on the individual’s presence of mind to sense lurking danger. “In this particular case, at least the victim’s sister could have alerted the police instead of continuing her conversation for a longer time,” said the source.
Further, the police urged women and senior citizens to approach police by dialling 100 in the event of vehicle breakdown or tyre puncture at odd hours. The nearest police team would help them in getting the vehicles fixed and reaching their destination safe, said Rachakonda Police Commissioner Mahesh M Bhagwat.