Indian police investigated over killings of rape suspects

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A policeman speaks on his phone as people hold a candlelight vigil in support of sexual assault victims and against the alleged rape and murder of a 27-year-old veterinary doctor in Hyderabad, in Bangalore on December 6, 2019. (AFP)
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Demonstrators hold placards to protest against the alleged rape and murder of a 27-year-old veterinary doctor in Hyderabad, during a demonstration in New Delhi on December 6, 2019. (AFP)
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Indian youths and students hold placards against the recents rapes throughout the country during a demonstration in Siliguri on December 7, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 07 December 2019

Indian police investigated over killings of rape suspects

  • The gang-rape and murder of the 27-year-old vet last week outside the southern tech capital of Hyderabad had prompted nationwide protests
  • More than 33,000 rapes were reported in India in 2017, according to the latest government figures, but vast numbers go unreported

SHADNAGAR, India: A top Indian rights group on Saturday launched an investigation into the police shooting of four rape-murder suspects after accusations they were gunned down in cold blood to assuage public anger.
But in a country where violence against women is rife and an overburdened criminal justice system means attackers often escape punishment, many Indians also celebrated the suspects’ deaths.
The launch of the investigation by the National Human Rights Commission comes as India also reeled from the death of another woman on Friday, set on fire on her way to a sexual assault court hearing in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
The gang-rape and murder of the 27-year-old vet last week outside the southern tech capital of Hyderabad had prompted nationwide protests and calls for swift and tough justice, with one lawmaker calling for them to be “lynched.”
Police said that they shot the four suspects, who had been in custody for a week, early Friday after they snatched officers’ guns during a night-time re-enactment at the crime scene organized by detectives.
Their deaths were met with celebrations, with hundreds heading to the scene and showering officers with flower petals, as politicians, celebrities and sports stars congratulated police on social media.
However, others expressed horror, with one Supreme Court lawyer calling it “murder in cold blood” and Amnesty International saying the “alleged extrajudicial execution” should be investigated.
The Indian Express said in its Saturday editorial that the shooting of the four suspects “reflects an idea of medieval mob justice.”
Police are often accused of using extrajudicial killings to bypass the legal process to cover-up botched investigations or to pacify public anger.
More than 33,000 rapes were reported in India in 2017, according to the latest government figures, but vast numbers go unreported, experts say.
At the same time, a huge backlog of cases that many victims wait years for their attackers to be convicted, and that many perpetrators escape justice.
The reconstruction at the crime scene where the suspects were shot was overseen by a police officer involved in two similar incidents, including when three acid attack suspects were killed in a forest in 2008, the Indian Express reported Saturday.
A team from the National Human Rights Commission arrived at the scene on Saturday afternoon having first visited the morgue where the bodies were held.
The Commission said that it was concerned that the killings would “send a wrong message to society.”
The police have been ordered the bodies to be preserved until Monday evening and that their autopsies be filmed.
The four men had, according to police, confessed during interrogation to gang-raping and murdering the woman before setting fire to her body under a bridge.
The Indian Express editorial slammed the country’s political class, accusing them of “choosing to whip up a toxic primal anger that never lies too far beneath this grossly unequal society. They are choosing to not just cheer, but lead the bloodthirsty mob.”
Veteran politician Kapil Sibal warned that “savage Taliban-style justice... will make courts irrelevant.”
But the murdered woman’s father said “justice was done.”
Separately on Friday, a woman who had been set on fire on Thursday by men she had accused of raping her succumbed to her injuries in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
The victim, who suffered 90-percent burns, told police that she was attacked by two men who had raped her, assisted by three others on her way to a court hearing.
All five suspects have been arrested and are being questioned, senior policeman Suvendra Kumar Bhagat told AFP.
Local politicians were heckled as they visited the 23-year-old woman’s home village on Saturday, reports said.
In another incident, police in southern India’s Kerala state Saturday said that one of four men accused, but later acquitted, over the deaths of two girls in 2017 was beaten by an angry mob.
Following an outcry over the acquittals in the case, which saw two girls aged 13 and nine hang themselves after being sexually abused, the local government has filed an appeal.


Philippines halts visas on arrival for Chinese on virus fears

Updated 11 min 35 sec ago

Philippines halts visas on arrival for Chinese on virus fears

  • There have been no confirmed cases in the Philippines since the coronavirus outbreak began in China’s central city of Wuhan
  • Infections have been confirmed in Japan, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam
MANILA: The Philippines stopped issuing visas on arrival to Chinese nationals on Tuesday, in a bid to keep the southeast Asian nation free of a new virus that has killed 106 and infected more than 4,500 since emerging in China in December.
There have been no confirmed cases in the Philippines since the coronavirus outbreak began in China’s central city of Wuhan, but infections have been confirmed in Japan, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.
“We are taking this proactive measure to slow down travel, and possibly help prevent the entry of the 2019-nCov,” Jaime Morente, the commissioner of the Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration, said in a statement, referring to the virus.
There is no order barring Chinese nationals from entering the Philippines, however, Morente added.
He did not say when the facility would be resumed. Chinese nationals can still apply for visas at any Philippine embassy or consulate at their places of residence.
Health authorities are monitoring more than 11 suspected cases of the new coronavirus, they said on Tuesday.
The “visa upon arrival” facility has been offered to Chinese nationals since 2017, in an effort to boost tourism. Those eligible included investors and businessmen, athletes, delegates to international conventions and tour groups.
Chinese tourists accounted for 22 percent of the 7.5 million visitors to the Philippines between January and November last year, making China the second top nation of origin for international travelers to the country.