Four men accused of raping and murdering a veterinarian outside Hyderabad last month were shot dead when they tried to escape Friday morning, said a senior police officer.
The four men were being taken to the crime scene for investigation when they tried to break free at around 3.30 a.m.
"The four accused were killed in an encounter with police," V C Sajjanar, Cyberabad Police Commissioner was quoted by news agency PTI as saying.
Prakash Reddy, a deputy commissioner of police, told news agency ANI the accused were being taken to the crime scene for reconstructing the sequence of events when they snatched weapons and tried to attack the police. The police fired back in self defence, he said.
Mohammad Ali alias Mohammad Arif, Jollu Shiva, Jollu Naveen Kumar and Chintakunta Chenna Keshavulu were accused of assaulting the 27-year-old woman late evening on November 28 near Shadnagar town outside Hyderabad and then burning her body. They were in judicial custody for 14 days after their arrests.
“It has been 10 days to the day my daughter died. I express my gratitude towards the police and the government for this. My daughter's soul must be at peace now,” the father of the murdered woman told news agency ANI.
Lawyer and activist Karuna Nundy protested the encounter killings. "Now nobody will ever know if the four men killed by the police were innocent men, arrested fast to show action. And whether four of the most brutal rapists roam free, to rape and kill more women," she said on Twitter.
The crime drew comparison with the fatal gang rape of a young woman, on board a bus in 2012. The crime sparked widespread protests and drew international attention to violence against women in India.
Scores of people held protests in Hyderabad and elsewhere in Telangana on Thursday to demand swift punishment for the four men.
The current case has also provoked outrage on social media with #HangRapists trending on Twitter in India.