All four accused in the gang-rape and murder of a 26-year-old female veterinarian in Telangana were killed in an encounter with police Friday morning, the Cyberabad police said.
The accused were killed in crossfire between 3am-6am on Friday morning, Cyberabad Police Commissioner V C Sajjanar said.
A senior police officer said the incident took place when the accused were taken to the site of the offence for reconstruction of the scene of the crime as part of the investigation.
"They (accused) snatched weapons from police and fired on police and tried to escape... police fired in retaliation in which the four accused died," a senior police official told news agency PTI.
Two policemen were also injured, he said.
The four men, all lorry workers, aged between 20 and 24, were arrested on November 29 for allegedly raping and killing the woman by smothering her and later burning her body.
They were in remanded to 7 days' judicial custody.
The events of Friday morning, however, were uncannily similar to an alleged encounter that happened in Warangal, in 2008. The top cop who is handling the Hyderabad vet's rape case, Cyberabad police chief VC Sajjanar, was Superintendent of Police in Warangal, at the time of that encounter, he gunned down three men accused of throwing acid on two girls.
Reacting to the killing of the four accused in the encounter, the Telangana veterinarian's family said they welcomed it.
"It has been 10 days to the day my daughter died. I express my gratitude towards the police and government for this. My daughter's soul must be at peace now," the father of the veterinarian said about the police encounter.
While saying it condemned the rape-murder incident as a "horrendous crime", the Telangana BJP said it was too premature to comment on the police encounter.
Rekha Sharma, Chairman of National Commission for Women, said, "We always demanded death penalty for them, and here police is the best judge, I don't know in what circumstances this happened," adding, "But this end was supposed to be through the legal system. It should have happened through proper channels."
The mother of Nirbhaya, 2012 gang-rape victim in Delhi, said she was happy about the encounter and "justice has been served."
According to the Cyberabad Police, the four accused punctured the rear wheel of the woman's scooter on the night of November 27, offered to help her, dragged her to a secluded spot close to a toll plaza and raped her.
A large number of people expressed happiness over the encounter killing . Many people reached the "encounter" site and congratulated the police and raised slogans in favour of them like 'Telangana police zindabad' and "We got justice" and said this would act as a deterrent for people from committing such crimes.
Some were seen distributing sweets and showering flower petals on police personnel.
The gang rape-and-murder triggered a nation-wide outrage with the public and lawmakers demanding speedy punishment to the perpetrators.
The state government had ordered setting up of a special court (fast track) to expedite the trial.
(With inputs from PTI)