Leading the investigation into the gangrape and murder of the 27-year-old veterinary doctor in Cyberabad that sent shockwaves throughout the country, Commissioner of police VC Sajjanar must have felt a sense of deja vu. Because eleven years ago, when he was SP of Warangal district, an equally sensational case had rocked erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh.
In December 2008, three youth threw acid on two girls, both of them engineering students in Warangal town. The main accused Srinivas Rao was angry that one of the girls, Swapnika had spurned his overtures and decided to take revenge along with two of his friends. The police cracked the case by arresting the trio within 48 hours. At that time too, there was public outrage that girls were not safe in Andhra Pradesh.
What happened within few hours of the arrest was dramatic. The three men were gunned down by the police near Warangal. The police claimed the trio had attacked the policemen with a country-made weapon and acid when they had taken them to a location to gather evidence. Sajjanar defended his cops saying they had defended themselves, killing all three accused.
Though human rights activists protested against this extra-judicial killings and accused Sajjanar of covering up a fake encounter by making up a story, there was huge public support for the IPS officer. In fact, thousands of students from all over Warangal greeted the bespectacled cop with bouquets and sweets.
The crime that took place near the toll plaza in Shamshabad has evoked similar anger, with people across the country calling it another Nirbhaya. Like in Warangal, Sajjanar put all his resources – both human and technical intelligence – on the job to nab the accused within 48 hours. Just like in Warangal, the anger on the street is palpable. The doctor’s neighbours on Friday demanded that the killers be handed over to them to mete out justice in a kangaroo court. Lawyers in Telangana have said they will not defend the accused in court.