Lorry driver Mohammed Arif (26) was the first to open fire on police personnel from the snatched pistol, and the police retaliated only after repeated warnings, said Cyberabad Commissioner of Police V.C. Sajjanar here on Friday.
Arif and lorry cleaners Jollu Naveen, Jollu Shiva and Ch. Chennakeshavulu, all aged about 20 years, accused in the gang-rape and murder of woman veterinarian Disha last week, were killed in an exchange of fire with police at Chatanpalli, barely 300 metres from the original scene of crime.
A team of 10 police personnel had taken the quartet to the underbridge near Chatanpalli for the reconstruction of the crime scene around 5.15 a.m.
Speaking to reporters in a parched agriculture field where the accused died in an exchange of fire, Mr. Sajjanar said policemen had escorted the accused to the scene of offence after they confessed their crime and claimed they had thrown away the victim’s mobile phone, power bank, watch and other items in the nearby ground.
“The accused misled our team by often changing their version once they reached the spot and a few minutes later, they attacked our men with stones and sticks before snatching two pistols from the special party,” he said.
Asked how Arif and Chennakeshavulu managed to open fire as their firearms were usually locked, Mr. Sajjanar claimed at that time the weapons were unlocked and it was easy for the accused to fire.
Two others, Naveen and Shiva, started pelting stones and hitting their men with sticks they found in the open ground, he said.
“We repeatedly warned them, asked them to surrender. Since they opened fire, we had to retaliate in self-defence and a few minutes later when the fire from their side ceased, our men reached the spot only to find the four bodies,” he said, adding that the law has done its duty.
He also insisted that the accused were ‘not handcuffed’ when they were taken to the spot where the woman vet’s body was torched.
According to the Commissioner, Sub-Inspector Venkateshwarlu and constable Aravindh Goud of Nandigama police station suffered severe injuries when Shiva and Naveen attacked them and policemen didn’t suffer any bullet injuries in the exchange of fire which lasted for more than 15 minutes.
Asked why the accused were brought to Chatanpalli at dawn, the officer said, “We had to bring them in the dark as they were facing a lot of threat to their life after the outrage in public.”
The police suspect the accused were involved in similar offences in the neighbouring States of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, besides Telangana. “We have done the DNA profiling of the culprits, as we suspect they have committed similar offences there,” Mr. Sajjanar said, adding that data will be matched with other records also.
Answering a question on the number of bullet injuries the culprits suffered, he said: “The exact details will be known only after autopsy.”
Further, he said that a case under Section 176 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure (Inquiry by Magistrate into the cause of death in police custody) and other Sections of IPC and Arms Act will be registered against the officers who took part in the firing.