A gang rape and murder case in India that had roiled the country, prompting national protests in support of the 27-year-old victim, came to a shocking conclusion Friday when police shot and killed the four suspects in the case. The four men—two truck drivers and two truck cleaners, all between 20 and 26 years old—were being held by police for the rape and murder of a female veterinarian in the southern city of Hyderabad last week when they were, according to police, taken to the scene of the crime around 3 a.m. to reconstruct the alleged murder scene. Police said the men were shot and killed after two of the men were able to take control of a police officer’s weapon and tried to escape.
“Some of the accused snatched the weapons from the police personnel and fired at them,” a police official told CNN. “In self-defense, the police fired at the accused.” The murky circumstances where each of the men were not only shot by police, but killed, has raised serious questions about whether the local police force carried out an extrajudicial killing in the dead of night. In India, questions over the manner in which police dispensed what appears to be punishment for a crime the suspects had not yet been officially convicted of sparked condemnation from activists and human rights organizations, but few others. The officers were reportedly feted by locals, who swarmed the site of the killing, showering police with rose petals. “The law has done its duty,” a top local police official said of the men’s deaths.
“The Hyderabad case centers on a young veterinarian who had parked her motor scooter near a toll plaza on the evening of Nov. 27 and came back from an appointment to find that its rear tire was flat. A group of truck drivers offered to help her, the police said, but she suspected that she was in danger,” according to the New York Times. “The police said that the men had in fact deflated the tire as part of a plot to kidnap the young woman. The police added that the men had been drinking. They dragged the woman, who the police said was in her mid-20s, to a bushy area nearby and assaulted her. They then suffocated her and burned her body.”