Saturday, December 13, 2008

Three acid attackers shot in AP encounter

14 Dec 2008, 0048 hrs IST, TNN



WARANGAL/HYDERABAD: Rights activists and opposition parties cried foul on Saturday after three youths, arrested for attacking two engineering
college girls with acid, were gunned down by the police in an encounter.

But public, baying for the blood of the acid attackers, applauded the extra judicial killing. As the news of the encounter trickled down, a large number of jubilant women and girls thronged Mamnoor, the encounter site off Warangal, to get a glimpse of the three. "It is only right that they have been eliminated,'' remarked Anil Reddy, a student.

However, main opposition party TDP called it a cold-blooded murder and said the encounter would usher in the law of jungle. "This is a political killing. The ruling regime wants to prove its macho credentials,'' a TDP leader, who did not want to be quoted, said.

The three youths identified as main suspect were S Srinivas (25) and his accomplices Sanjay (22) and Harikrishna (24). The father of the prime accused refused to take his body and justified his elimination as "justice done for the crime''.

The body had to be cremated by the sarpanch of Srinivas's village. The reaction of the family members of the other two was different: the father of Sanjay had a heartattack on hearing about his death in the encounter and the parents of Harikrishna said their son had been murdered.

The wto girls had filed complaints with the police about the harassment by the accused weeks before the acid attack. But the police did not act. K Swapnika, 24, who suffered acid burns on her face, chest, back and thighs in the attack that took place on Wednesday evening, is battling for her life in a Hyderabad hospital. The second victime, T Pranitha, is out of danger.

The main accused, Srinivas, had been turned down by the girls. He along with his two accomplices, drove a bike and threw acid on the girls last Wednesday. The girls were returning home in a scooter.

The police arrested Srinivas late on Wednesday night and picked up his two associates on Thursday. All the three were produced before the media on Friday evening. Warangal SP V C Sajjanar had told reporters the three had confessed to attacking Swapnika and Pranitha. However, Srinivas maintained he was innocent.

Around 11.30 pm on Friday, the three accused were taken to Mamnoor, near Warangal. According to the police, Srinivas and his accomplices had claimed that they had hidden the acid bottles used in the attack and the motorcycle in which they committed the crime in Mamnoor. "While we were searching, Srinivas took out a country-made pistol and the other two whipped up knives and acid bottles. In the retaliatory action, all the three were shot dead," SP Sajjanar said on Saturday morning in a version that nobody believes.

Grim figures

Hyderabad: Warangal, once a hotbed of naxal activity, has seen an increasing attacks on women. Encounter deaths too are rising. Since last December, at least eight youths accused in crimes against women were shot dead by the Warangal police. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)'s statistics for 2007 revealed that the maximum number of crimes against women have taken place in Andhra Pradesh.

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