Earlier this year, a woman reported to the Unnao police that she had been raped at gunpoint on December 12, 2018. Her rapist was later jailed but found himself free this past week after securing bail. Last week, the 23-year victim intended to board a train in the Unnao district of northern Uttar Pradesh state to testify in court against her rapist. Before boarding the train, the woman was attacked by a group of men, which included her alleged rapist. She was drenched in kerosene and set on fire. She later died in a New Delhi hospital of cardiac arrest with burns covering 95 percent of her body.
On November 27, in Hyderabad city, the capital Telangana state, a 27-year old veterinarian was caught at the side of the road when her motor scooter got a flat tire. A group of truckers offered her assistance, but in a final phone call to her sister, the woman voiced her apprehension over the situation. The four truckers dragged the victim off the road and raped her. She was then suffocated, and the assailants burned her remains. Police believe that this was a calculated attack and that the truckers had deflated the tire as a ploy to kidnap the woman.
With India ranking amongst the most dangerous places for women, these have become recurrent stories in the country. In 2017, over 32,500 cases of rape were reported to the police, which equates to about 90 victims a day. In the same year, the state disposed of only 18,300 rape-related cases, while 127,800 remained pending. The absence of efficient legal repercussions has caused many to lose faith in the judicial system, and some have begun to praise alternative methods of correcting injustices.
At 3 a.m. on Friday, the Hyderabad case reached an expedient conclusion when police officers killed the four men accused of raping and murdering the 27-year old veterinarian. Although exact details remain unclear, it is believed that the police officers brought the men to the scene of the crime to reenact the assault, during which the men attempted to grab the officers’ guns, which prompted the officers to shoot the attackers dead.
The public has commended the officers for their actions. On Friday, people gathered in the streets of Hyderabad and showered the officers with rose petals as a sign of appreciation.
But, the details surrounding the incident have attracted suspicion. With no witnesses, it is possible that the police concocted the story, which saw their lives in jeopardy. The shortcomings of the judicial system have caused many officers to resort to extrajudicial killings, which have become euphemized as ‘encounters.’ Over the past years, numerous people have been killed in ‘encounters’. Many of which are later discovered to have been schemes fabricated by officers.
The anger in India over the lack of justice for victims of rape is a sentiment that is felt worldwide. But, letting police officers act with complete immunity in no way compensates for the violent crimes committed against women.