Opinion was divided in political circles on the police killing of the four accused in the rape and murder of Disha, 25-year-old Hyderabad veterinarian.
Former Union Minister Maneka Gandhi said, “You can’t kill people because you want to”. “ Jo bhi hua hai bohot bhayanak hua hai is desh ke liye [What happened was horrifying for the country]... You cannot kill people because you want to. You cannot take the law in your hands. They [accused] would have been hanged by the court anyhow,” she told reporters. If the accused were to be shot dead before the due process of law, then what’s the point of having courts, law and police, she asked.
But many others in her party, the BJP, however, applauded the killing. Rajyavardhan Rathore, MP, hailed the “encounter” and also the ‘leadership’ that allowed it. “I congratulate the Hyderabad police and the leadership that allows the police to act like police. Let all know this is the country where good will always prevail over evil (Disclaimer for holier than thou- police acted swiftly in self defence),” he tweeted.
Delhi MP from the BJP Meenakshi Lekhi said, “There is a sense of satisfaction for women. If the accused had submitted to the law, then the due process could have been followed. But they tried to flee. Those criticising the killing aren’t being practical.”
The BJP’s allies also welcomed the incident. National president of the Lok Jan Shakti Party Chirag Paswan, in a series of tweets, congratulated the police. “At least one daughter, one sister got justice. But we should not be satisfied with this alone. Unless the convicts of such heinous crimes in other parts of the country are punished, this satisfaction is incomplete. Justice delayed is justice denied,” he said.
Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan, who had called in the Rajya Sabha for the lynching of the accused, said: “Der aaye, durust aaye...der aaye, bohot der aaye... [Better late than never... but happened very late).”
DMK MP P.Wilson, who had demanded chemical or surgical castration of the rapist during the same debate, said a human rights violation had taken place. “We can't blindly subscribe to the Hyderabad police theory without a magisterial enquiry into it. There has been human rights violation for sure. This is why the rape laws needs to be amended and made far stringent. And the rapists must be named and shamed,” he stated.
The Congress, at its official press conference, was careful on the issue. “A magisterial inquiry is taking place. I just cannot speak on what will be the outcome of the magisterial inquiry, but we should wait... We need to hear the police version because all encounters cannot be bracketed into the same terminology,” Congress MP Amee Yajnik said.
Senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram, who is in Ranchi, also echoed similar views. “I don't know the facts of what happened in Hyderabad. As a responsible person, all I can say is, it must be thoroughly inquired into to find out if it was a genuine encounter, whether they were trying to flee or it was anything else,” he told reporters.
Congress Lok Sabha member Shashi Tharoor said extra judicial killings were not acceptable. “Agree in principle. We need to know more, for instance if the criminals were armed, the police may have been justified in opening fire preemptively. Until details emerge we should not rush to condemn. But extra-judicial killings are otherwise unacceptable in a society of laws,” he tweeted.
Within the Congress also there were divergent voices. Rajya Sabha member Abhishek Manu Singhvi said sometimes the mood of the country took precedence over human rights “logics”. “Sometimes in spite of all the debates and Human Rights logics, we shall understand the mood and sentiments of the people of the nation and stand with them. After all, democracy is all about 'The People',” he tweeted.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that it was the anger in people against such incidents that was making them happy about encounter killings. “The rape cases that have come to light of late, people are in angry, whether it is Unnao or Hyderabad, so people are expressing happiness over the encounter. It is also something to be worried about, the way people have lost their faith in the criminal justice system. Together all the governments will have to take action on how to strengthen criminal justice system,” he said.