December 13, 2008
The case of acid attack on two college going girls in Warangal took another gruesome turn with the three accused dying in an “encounter” with the police in the outskirts of Warangal late last night.
The district superintendent of police V C Sajjanar said that the three accused S Srinvas Rao, Potharaju Harikrishna and B Sanjay were killed when the police opened fire in self defense as they had tried to attack the police and attempted to escape.
The incident occurred at around 11 pm at a deserted place near Mamnoor hillock in the outskirts of Warangal when the police had taken the three accused to the place where they had hidden the material used in targeting the two engineering students K Swapnalika and Pranitha with acid.
The two girls were seriously injured and disfigured in the attack on Wednesday which sent waves of shock and anger all over the state.
“In a preplanned move, they had hidden knives, a country made pistol, acid and a motorcycle at the spot”, said Sajjanar after visiting the scene of the encounter.
“When they attempted to flee by throwing acid at the policemen and tried to attack with the knives and the firearm, the police fired in self defense”, he said. Sajjanar said that the police men had warned them to surrender but they did not pay heed.
The police recovered the stolen two-wheeler which they had used in attacking the girls, and other items from the scene of the encounter.
All the three accused were produced by the police before media in Warangal on Friday where Srinivas admitted that he had attacked Swapnalika with the intention of disfiguring her. “If she could not become mine, no one else should get her”, said Srinivas Rao, an engineering college drop out. He was also angry that Swapnalika was seeing another boy Karthik.
Police said Harikrishna and Sanjay had helped Srinivas in the attack. Pranitha, another girl also became the victim of the acid attack as she happened to be riding a two wheeler with Swapnalika. Srinivas was angry with Swapnlika for rejecting his amorous advances. Both Swapnalika and Pranitha are the final year students of B. Tech in the Kakatiya Institute of Technology and Sciences in Warangal.
The trio told the police that they had practiced for a month how to carry out the acid attack with out missing their target. They practiced by throwing water at toy tied to a pole.
The bodies of the three accused, with bullet injuries in the chest and the abdomen were found in the thick grass field as hundreds of people from the surrounding areas rushed to the scene. However none was willing to believe the police story of an encounter.
Potharaju Saraiah, the father of one of the deceased Harikrishna said that it was a fake encounter staged by the police. “Instead of producing him in the court, they killed him in cold blood”, said Saraiah.
K Balagopal, convenor, Human Rights Forum and Jeevan Kumar, Secretary, Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Forum also condemned the police for killing three accused in fake encounter. “Though there were witnesses and evidence, instead of proving their guilt in the court of law, the police killed them in the name of encounter”, Balagopal said.
He demanded that the SP Sajjanar should be put under suspension and the policemen involved in the incident should be dismissed.
“I don’t have any doubt that this is a fake encounter”, said Jeevan Kumar.
However some women activists refused to condemn it. “Whether it was a fake encounter or not is a secondary issue”, said V Jhansi, the president of Mahila Morcha, women’s wing of the BJP. “They had committed a brutal crime against women. Even if they were kept in jail, they would have come out on bail after six months”, she said.
The incident occurred at a time when the two girls were undergoing treatment in two hospitals of Hyderabad. The doctors at Yashodha Hospital have described condition of Swapnalika as serious and they were not sure whether her eye sight will be restored.
Pranitha, whose face has also been partially disfigured told the media in Hyderabad on Friday that she wants her tormentors to die by acid. “They should be killed in the same manner as they tried to kill us”, she said.
25 year old Srinivas Rao, after dropping out of engineering college was running real estate business, 24 year old P Harikrishna and 22 year old Sanjay were doing graduation from Masterji College in Warangal.